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How TMJ Disorders Negatively Affect Your Health
TMJ disorders are becoming more and more common because of the stress many people face daily. Chronic illness, major life changes, work-related issues or loss are all potential stressors that can trigger TMJ pain. Also, TMJ disorders are often caused by excess stress on the joints as a result of teeth grinding habits. TMJ disorders do not only make eating and talking painful and uncomfortable, but they also have negative impacts on your health.
The negative impact of TMJ disorders
Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include headaches, popping sounds in the jaw and pain in the neck and jaw. Proper treatment can help to resolve the symptoms and other health concerns associated with TMJ disorder. Some of the negative effects of TMJ disorders on health include:
Teeth grinding and abnormal tooth deterioration
TMJ disorder and teeth grinding are interrelated. Teeth grinding can cause TMJ disorder, but sometimes, the reverse is the case. Constant teeth grinding often occurs during sleep or when under stress. Teeth grinding can cause jaw pain and radiating pain around the head. The tooth enamel may be the hardest part of the body, but it is prone to premature deterioration when the teeth grind against each other. Therefore, the teeth may have fracture lines, chip or wear down badly.
Headaches and migraines
The strain on the muscles around the TMJ can radiate pain and fatigue over the neck, face, shoulders and the head. A few of the symptoms of TMJ patients must watch out for include jaw pain, muscle fatigue or jaw pain after waking in the morning. If these happen regularly, there is a problem with the TMJ. Untreated TMJ disorder causes painful headaches, including migraines.
Loss of bone mass and jaw cartilage
Without proper treatment, TMJ can cause permanent damage to the jaw. The cartilage supporting the joint will gradually deteriorate and jawbone may erode. This results in painful friction in the jaw and may eventually cause jaw dislocation. Jawbone erosion can alter the facial appearance since it causes visible changes to the structure and proportions of the face.
TMJ pain and constant teeth grinding can disrupt a good night’s sleep and reduce sleep time. Poor sleep quality causes daytime drowsiness, affects productivity negatively and causes attention disorders.
As jaw pain worsens, patients may be forced to change their diet, avoiding chewy or hard foods. In case of severe pain, patients may limit their meals to liquid and soft foods, which may cause malnutrition eventually.
The jaw joint is positioned under the ears. Inflammation of the joint can damage the auditory nerves connected to the ear, resulting in hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
The bottom line
Without proper treatment, TMJ disorder will only worsen, eventually disrupting your routine and causing severe pain. Once you notice the signs of a TMJ problem, book an appointment with a dentist. You can get non-surgical solutions such as preventive splints that are worn in the mouth to prevent jaw strains and relax the muscles. The investment in treatment will save you from the adverse effects of TMJ disorder on your health.
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