Your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the most heavily used and under appreciated joint in the human body. The TMJ is the reason you can open and close your mouth as well as extending and moving your jaw side-to-side. This joint helps you eat, talk and express yourself through facial expressions.
It’s easy to see that without your TMJ, you would not be able to do the most common tasks of eating and talking. The unfortunate thing is the TMJ tends to go unnoticed unless something goes wrong. Here are some complications that are associated with the TMJ.
Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding is a very common problem associated with TMJ. For many people, teeth grinding will occur while they are sleeping. Since teeth grinding most often occurs while you are sleeping, you may not be aware you are even doing it. But the noise can be enough to wake up your bed partner or even annoy them.
If you suffer from bruxism, you might also find that you are waking up with tightness and soreness in your jaw muscles. Over time, bruxism can cause the destruction of tooth enamel, the formation of gaps between teeth, and damage to the TMJ.
Complications with jaw pain
Another condition involving the TMJ is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). This condition can even exacerbate headaches. Through the successful treatment of TMD, you may even find an improvement in your headaches.
When TMD is severe, the TMJ can painfully lock, which can cause a person to be unable to move their jaw until the joint is realigned—this might require surgery. These issues of the TMJ can also occur in correlation with bruxism, excessive jaw clenching, jaw trauma, and sometimes without any clear cause.
Oral appliance therapy for relief
A common treatment for TMD is the use of a night guard, or oral appliance, which is a plastic mouthpiece that covers the teeth and prevents enamel on enamel contact. A night guard is typically created and used for the upper teeth. We can create a night guard custom made to meet your individual needs, which is significantly better than boil and bites.
Contact us at AZ Sleep & TMJ Center to learn more about what might be causing your TMJ pain and discomfort.