TMJ Dysfunction has many causes
Whilst the exact cause of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction is not known, multiple factors are understood to contribute to the muscle tightness and dysfunction of the TMJ.
The following conditions may affect the TMJ, causing temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD);
Misalignment of, or trauma to the teeth or jaw.
Misalignment of the teeth or jaw resulting from malocclusion, or recent trauma, such as whiplash, can result in ongoing pain and tenderness in the TMJ. Misalignment affects everyday activities such as talking, chewing and the general placement of the teeth while sitting at a desk or watching TV. Misalignment of the teeth can place stress on the jaw and neck, leading to postural symptoms in other parts of the body.
Recent trauma stemming from any kind of accident resulting in a sudden quick action, or a knock to the neck and facial area may also cause TMJ disorder. High velocity trauma can force the hinge of the TMJ to dislocate, and the jaw to protrude forward.
Teeth grinding and TMD
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxing or bruxism, can cause TMD by putting pressure on the muscles, tissues and supporting structures of the jaw. Whilst the two are not always related, they can present similar symptoms. This is because bruxism can occur due to misalignment of the teeth or jaw, and TMD is caused by misalignment of the jaw joint.
If left untreated, both teeth grinding and TMJ dysfunction can lead to long term discomfort, damage to the teeth, and even erosion of the jaw joint.
Stress and TMD
Stress can present as a number of physical symptoms. For some, it can appear as teeth grinding, jaw muscle tension and jaw clenching. This can lead to TMD in similar ways as teeth grinding mentioned above.
Poor posture of the neck and upper back muscles.
Everyday activities such as staring at a computer with your jaw forward can place significant pressure on the lower neck. The resulting strain on the muscles of the face, neck and upper back can result in symptoms of TMD. Assessment and corrective treatment of posture is required to reduce the impact this has caused on the temporomandibular joint.
Arthritis or other inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions.
Arthritis and some other inflammatory conditions may affect the TMJ and give rise to TMD. Whilst the exact relationship between rheumatic and inflammatory disorders and TMD is unknown, it is thought that the pain, inflammation and stiffness in the joints, muscles, and bone caused by the primary disease may also affect the TMJ.
What should I do if I have the signs of TMD?
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