Eating is one of the most important things that we do as human beings. Food sustains us, brings us pleasure, and helps us to remain healthy. However, what if you could not enjoy your daily meals due to pain in your jaw? While the act of eating may seem like a very straightforward process, it is actually fairly complex. The motions associated with eating are carried out by your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and muscles. These muscles and tendons join the TMJ with the rest of your skull, allowing you to bite and chew with ease. Discovering that you have pain in your TMJ can make something as normally pleasant as eating turn into a painful and miserable experience. If you are struggling with pain in your TMJ, we here at Mor Smiles can help to determine the cause of it, and can help relieve the discomfort you are experiencing.
What Is Your Temporomandibular Joint?
The temporomandibular joint consists of several bones in your jaw. It includes the mandible (where the back teeth are) and the temporal bones (the bones located in the region of the ear). Between these bones, there is a specific pocket (the synovial cavity) with a specialized type of fluid (called synovial liquid) inside it. The function of synovial liquid is to lubricate and protect the bones, allowing them to operate with ease. This cavity is then divided by the articular disc, which is very flexible and allows the mandible to move correctly. When these bones are working properly and in harmony, they can help you move your jaw without worrying about unwanted pain or discomfort.
Causes of TMD
There are a lot of reasons why temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) can occur. One key trigger for it is none other than stress. Stress is fairly common, and many people may struggle with it during their lives. Chronic stress can affect you in many ways, and one of those ways is a condition known as “bruxism.” Bruxism occurs when you bite down hard (or chew aggressively) either when you are awake or asleep. When this happens, your masseter muscle (one of the muscles included in the process of moving your jaw) over contracts. As a result, you may experience inflammation of the muscle and pain.
Bruxism also has a significant impact on your bite. If left untreated, it can lead to your teeth becoming worn down and may even cause a misalignment in your bite (called “malocclusion”). Over time, it may even lead to a displaced disc. If you develop a displaced disc, it can make it quite painful to move your jaw. Furthermore, your jaw may lock when opening or closing it, and it may produce a clicking noise.
It is important to note that while bruxism is often a cause of TMD, it is not the only reason it can occur. Other conditions which cause TMD are arthritis and arthrosis. This can lead to degeneration of the joints in this area, worsening the discomfort in your TMJ.
Symptoms of TMD
The most recognizable symptom of TMD is the pain in the jaw. However, the discomfort may extend beyond that and cause a lot of pain in other areas around the joint. People with TMD may experience headaches, toothaches, earaches, and pain in the neck and shoulders. Noises like clicking or popping could occur, as well.
Temporomandibular disorders can be disruptive to your day-to-day life, negatively affecting your mood. Being exposed to constant pain, and not being able to enjoy sleeping or eating, can quickly become a serious problem. This condition may negatively impact your quality of life, which is why it needs to be addressed as quickly as you can. If you suspect that you may have TMD, or you would like to learn more about this condition, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Mor Smiles at 223-258-5088 today.