Causes Of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder(TMJ)

by Samantha on January 29, 2011

Temporomandibular joint disorder, or more commonly known as TMJ, means that the connecting hinge of the upper and lower jaw isn’t functioning correctly. Responsible for letting the lower jaw move in all directions, this is one of the most complicated joints the body has. Anything that keeps these muscles, discs, bones, and ligaments from working correctly is referred to as TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder.

One of the most common signs of TMJ is your jaw feeling like it’s stuck or popping. Sometimes the cause of this is impossible to name. However, it has been noted that some of the causes are disease, trauma, aging or a person’s habits.

One such trauma is that of teeth grinding and clenching called bruxism. This wears down the cartilage lining of the temporomandibular joint. Anyone with bruxism usually isn’t aware that they’re grinding and clenching their teeth as it’s involuntary. Someone else observing them typically needs to tell them what’s going on. This can be a sleeping partner, roommate or dentist. There will be definite signs of damage to the teeth. Most teeth grinders tend to wake up each morning with pain in their jaws or ears.

Nervous habits such as constant gum chewing and nail biting can also bring about TMJ. The repetitive motion of these actions can cause the wearing down of the cartilage lining and make any symptoms of TMJ decidedly worse. It may be wise to limit these activities.

Malocclusion, or the misalignment of teeth, among other dental issues can also be another cause of TMJ. For people with these problems, it can often be hard to find a way to bite that doesn’t cause discomfort. The fit of their teeth may also have changed, causing even more problems. Also, avoid chewing on just one side of your mouth as this can cause TMJ issues.

Any previous jaw or facial bone fractures can eventually lead to TMJ problems. This is pretty self-explanatory. If your bones are fractured badly enough they’ll have to be re-set to heal. Once they’ve healed, you may have a totally different bite.

A leader in TMJ disorders is stress. Any stress and anxiety issues can cause tension in all parts of the body, particularly in the facial and jaw muscles. In addition, it’s quite common for people with pent up nervous energy to unconsciously grind and clench their teeth to release this energy.

Some occupational activities can aggravate or lead to TMJ disorders. For instance, if you have a job that requires you to hold a telephone between your head and shoulder a lot, that’s an action that can cause TMJ problems. A solution to this one, if you must be on the phone a lot, is to get a headset if at all possible.

Finally, there are some other health issues that can lead to or aggravate TMJ disorders. Such things as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are at the top of the list of these. As both of these can attack and affect joints and bones in the body, the TMJ can be a part of this attack.

It’s imperative that you visit your dentist if you notice any of the symptoms of TMJ disorders. The sooner your problem is diagnosed, the sooner you can start finding ways to treat it.

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