Your smile consists of more than merely your teeth and gums. In fact, both would be largely useless if your mouth didn’t move, and the components that control this movement are subject to damage just like your teeth and gums. TMJ disorder describes a condition where your jaw’s joints, called temporomandibular joints (TMJs), are damaged and/or misaligned, causing a dysfunction in your bite’s balance. Today, we explore the details about TMJ disorder, and how the imbalance can affect more than just your dental health.
Balancing Your Bite
Your temporomandibular joints, located in front of each ear, connect your lower jaw to your skull and work in tandem to open and close it. Your jaw is designed to glide smoothly along these joints, but crooked teeth, an asymmetrical jawbone, an injury, or a destructive habit like teeth-grinding can throw your bite off balance. As a result, your jaw joints and muscles work harder to keep your bite straight. The excessive strain and pressure can damage your TMJs and the muscles that surround them, leading to TMJ disorder and a wide range of possible symptoms.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms
Aside from joints and muscles, your jaw also consists of nerves; specifically, the trigeminal nerve group, which consists of three branches that span most of your craniofacial structure. The trigeminal nerve group accounts for the majority of cranial sensory input, and when an imbalanced jaw disturbs the nerve, it can transmit the discomfort to other areas along its path. Aside from a sore or painful jaw, symptoms of TMJ disorder also include (but are not limited to);
- Chronic migraines
- Frequent earaches, especially in the morning
- Hurt/sore facial muscles
- Difficulty opening and closing your mouth fully
- Popping/clicking jaw