Understanding the Symptoms and Causes of TMJ Disorders
There is no one cause of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, otherwise known as TMD. Dr. Maryam Motlagh is passionate about educating patients and healthcare professionals about the symptoms and causes of TMJ disorders at her Portland, OR, office. The condition is a functional issue that develops when your jaw does not align properly. There are multiple causes of TMD, and often, the source of the condition can begin in childhood. Contact Aesthetic Smiles℠ to learn more about TMJ disorders.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
There are a wide range of symptoms that can manifest with TMD:
- A clicking noise with jaw movement: The combined effects of jaw misalignment will force your jaw back during movement. The soft inner disc in the jaw joint can then slip to the front. As a result, you may notice a clicking or popping sound while chewing or speaking.
- Poor posture: When misaligned, your tongue and jaw are forced backwards, and they close off your airways. You may then tilt your neck forward in order to breathe properly. Like many TMD patients, you may develop chronic bad posture, which can lead to further headaches, neck stiffness, and upper back pain.
- Clenching and grinding of the teeth: Patients who clench and grind their teeth either during sleep or as a result of stress can eventually develop worn teeth, which disrupt the balance of the bite, exacerbating TMD symptoms.
- Jaw stiffness and pain: With TMD, jaw joints may eventually degenerate. This damage can interfere with your ability to open and close your mouth, and cause pain when speaking and chewing.
- Headaches: The constant strain from a misaligned bite can strain muscles and cause jaw and facial muscles to spasm. This can lead to severe tension headaches.
TMD Often Begins at an Early Age
Jaw misalignment itself has a number of underlying causes, which often begin early in life. Babies who use bottles and pacifiers may develop severe dental issues because the shape of their soft palate may raise, changing how the tongue and teeth fit as they develop. If children continue to use these devices after teeth develop, this will only worsen the effect.
Allergies and mouth breathing are two other childhood conditions that can lead to TMJ disorders. If a child suffers from regular allergies, the tonsils and adenoids will swell. Over time, the child may start to breathe through the mouth, rather than the nose. When unable to breathe through their noses, children can push their jaw and neck forward, tilting their head back for proper air flow. This habit places significant pressure on the jaw joints. In addition, the lower jaw can overdevelop, resulting in a long face, with too narrow dental arches, which also forces the tongue to rest in an abnormal position. All of these effects can negatively impact the child's ability to sleep and function, and can continue into adulthood.
When you understand the causes and symptoms of TMD, you can make informed decisions about your treatment. Dr. Motlagh will take the time to explain your symptoms, their causes, and how best to treat them.
Causes of TMD in Adults
There are a number of reasons that adults can develop TMD, including bad posture and habitual mouth breathing from childhood. Improper jaw alignment from previous orthodontic treatment can also lead to strain throughout the jaw. Another contributing factor can be wear to permanent teeth, which leads to a shifted bite pattern as we age. In addition, clenching and grinding of teeth can be both a cause and a symptom of TMD. As teeth are worn and muscles aggravated, jaw alignment and bite are altered, and can create or exacerbate existing TMJ disorders.
Learn More about TMD
When you understand the causes and symptoms of TMD, you can make informed decisions about your treatment. Dr. Motlagh will take the time to explain your symptoms, their source, and how best to treat them. Contact us today to learn more about this condition.
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