Your smile is more than just unique; it is also complex, and comprises more than the teeth and gums that you should keep clean every day. For instance, in order to bite and chew your food as they were meant to, your teeth must be powered by your jaws, which pivot on a pair of joints known as temporomandibular joints (TMJs). Besides strong and healthy teeth, the functions of your bite also rely on strong, healthy, and well-balanced TMJs. Unfortunately, due to a variety of risk factors, TMJ disorder can hinder your jaw’s movement, and your bite’s function, as well as lead to severe discomfort throughout your mouth, jaw, head, and more.
Are Your TMJs at Risk?
Your TMJs are located on either side of your jaw, at the temporal bones just in front of each ear. As your lower jaw, or mandible, opens, closes, and moves around, your two TMJs move in tandem. Normally, their unique glide-and-pivot design allows TMJs to operate perfectly in unison. When your bite is imbalanced, however, there is a high risk that the joints can sustain damage, become inflamed, or more. Common risk factors that could lead to bite misalignment and TMJ disorder can include;
- Moderate to severely crooked teeth, or malocclusion
- A congenitally-uneven jawbone
- An injury to the face, mouth, and/or jawbone
- Unconscious and habitual teeth-grinding, or bruxism
- Excessive muscle tension (a common symptom of too much stress)
Difficulties with TMJ Disorder
Because TMJs are responsible for your mandible’s path of movement, TMJ disorder often leads to difficulty biting and chewing your food, or opening and closing your mouth completely. Occasionally, you may even experience locked jaw, during which your jaw will become stuck in the open or closed position, unable to move. If not diagnosed and treated promptly, the discomfort of TMJ disorder may grow worse, and the damage will become more complex to treat by the time you do seek professional attention.
ABOUT YOUR HOUSTON, TX, DENTIST:
At Healthy Smiles Family Dentistry in Houston, TX, Dr. Amy Vlachakis (pronounced Vla-ha-kiss) and her dedicated staff strive to make everyone feel like family, while providing top-notch general, cosmetic, and family dentistry services to patients of all ages. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, call our office today at (281) 974-4494. Located in Memorial City Plaza, we proudly serve patients throughout Houston, Memorial City, Bunker Hill, West Beltway, City Center, Hedwig Village, and all surrounding communities.