Symptoms of TMJ

TMJ... The Frustrating Disease

Everyone knows what a broken leg is. 

The immediate pain is excruciating, you wear a cast, everyone signs their name on it, your leg starts to feel very itchy, you are put in a walking cast and then your leg needs strengthened. This all takes around 6 to 10 weeks.

Everyone knows what a cold is.

You are sore everywhere, have a low-grade fever, are congested, have a headache and sneeze or cough a lot. It lasts approximately 2 weeks.

Nobody… NOBODY realizes what malocclusion and TMJ are like.

Oh, they might have a vague clue of the issue but, not really.

You’ve probably heard comments and questions like these:

  • “You have a misaligned bite from your accident? Seen the chiropractor?”
  • “Your teeth don’t mesh together well? So, why do your ears ring?”
  • “Your jaw hurts from chewing? And… that makes your back hurt?”
  • “Your migraines are not from stress? They’re from your front teeth?”

Sometimes you just want to make a list of all the symptoms of TMJ and malocclusion, print it out and stick it on everyone’s door. Well, now you don’t have to. Print out this web page and hang it up.

People feel like no one understands them when they are living with the symptoms of malocclusion or TMJ. They feel cut-off and isolated from the whole world. They would do anything for relief, but don’t know how to get it. More than anything, they feel all alone.

However, you are not alone. 

We not only encounter situations similar to yours daily, but we provide solutions. We offer accurate diagnosis and treatment options that will fix your problem and start the healing in your life. And even more than that, we will provide you with the kindness, support and compassion that really reassures you are not alone.

Healing is just a step away. Let us take that step with you. For a free consultation and to start the process of taking back control of your life, contact us today.

Grinding. Clenching. Goodbye Teeth

Bruxing Is Like Chewing Without Any Food In Your Mouth

Teeth exist to grind and chew the food you eat. But, the upper and lower teeth should slide across each other smoothly, ONLY touching when you are having a meal.

Grinding your teeth when you’re sleeping, over a lifetime, can damage the surfaces of your teeth. Consistent tooth grinding, identified as bruxism, creates micro-cracks in the enamel. Your teeth become more susceptible to micro-organisms and decay. Nightime Bruxing is almost 100% responsible for the wearing down and cracking of crowns, veneers and your natural teeth. Tooth grinding might bring on muscle pain, pain in the facial area and chronic headaches.

Don’t forget, the truth is that we all grind our teeth now and then… for example, when we’re anxious about something. Or when our sleep is being disturbed. But when we grind our teeth on a regular basis, you probably have developed a condition called bruxism.

When Does Bruxing Start?

Bruxism starts at a young age. Even if the teeth are still in the process of developing, there’s still the chance that they could be causing problems under the gums. Some experts say that fifteen percent of our children reportedly grind or clench their teeth.

Substance-Generated Bruxism

Grinding may also be a side effect of medication among those being treated for depression, developmental disorders and schizophrenia. For those who are using non-pharmecutical drugs like ecstasy, crack and cocaine, the likelihood of destructive bruxism is significantly higher. Research indicates that these drugs affect the brain by stimulating it. Over-stimulation triggers the behavior of bruxism.

What Will My Smile Look Like If Its Not Fixed?

While enamel does wear naturally over the course of our entire lives, bruxism is like lighting a fire under the process. But, in the unlikely scenario that you never experienced any facial physical trauma, chemical* trauma, decay or gum disease, your enamel would naturally wear off at a steady rate of about just over .3 (that’s three tenths) of a millimeter a year.

However, bruxers can easily destroy 2 or more millimeters of their enamel by the time they reach the age of 21. If their bruxism is not addressed, bruxers can continue to wear away 1 to 2 millimeters of “tooth” each year. The word, “tooth” is used here because the enamel, once gone, gives way to the dentin below which can be worn away even more quickly due to its softer makeup. At this stage, the bruxer is no longer simply wearing down their teeth, they are actively ‘sculpting’ them. This process can create some very unique smile shapes ranging from the unfortunate to the bizarre.

You Probably Didn’t Know…

Nighttime bruxing can occur at almost a non-stop rate, grinding and clenching and grinding and clenching. Your jaws squeeze at up to 250 pounds of force per square inch. That’s enough pressure to crack a walnut in the shell… and your teeth.

*Acidic Foods And Drinks

Once upon a time there was just tea. Then there was tea and coffee. Both were relatively harmless to dental enamel. When soft drinks, energy drinks, espresso, and other “ramped up” acidic drinks arrived on the scene, the chemical destruction of our teeth went into high gear. Now, soft drink companies annually produce over 600 bottles of high-acid drinks for every person in the US.

Within 30 seconds after consuming them, the acid in citrus fruits and drinks has already destroyed a thin layer of tooth enamel. That damage is done whether you brush your teeth afterwards or not. In the last 50 years, the explosion of available citrus fruits and their “offspring” like fruit roll-ups, gummy bears, and both citrus juice and citrus drinks has been phenominal. Refrigerated transportation and food processing have made America a citrus nation. Today, each of us consumes an average of 63 pounds of citrus fruits or juices a year.

Why Do Your Fingers And Hands Tingle Sometimes?

There is no rhyme or reason… Sometimes I have a tingling and sometimes I don’t.

The nerves and the muscles in your face and jaw are extremely complex and intricately connected. Therefore, when your bite is misaligned, the nerves and muscles are affected. This misalignment may cause your face, jaw, neck and shoulder muscles to go into spasms. Then the spasms pinch the nerves that lead down your arms.

The end result of all of this? A feeling of tingling and numbness in your fingers, hands and arms.

Nearly 50 percent of all individuals who suffer from TMJ have a sensation of tingling, pricking or numbing on the skin in their hands and fingers. Sometimes they reported a reduction in their grip strength along with the numbness.

Some have explained these symptoms away, not understanding the probable association with TMJ. And because muscle spasms come and go, the numbness and tingling comes and goes.

The tingling and numbness may occur with or without other painful symptoms. Numbness in the hands and fingers, as it relates to the TMJ, is one symptom that doesn’t seem to have a predictable schedule. It also doesn’t seem to be predictably related to a person’s discomfort.

The pinching of the nerves and the tiny muscles around the blood vessels can cause the extremities to become cold, even changing color to a very pale or bluish tinge. The squeezing or pinching of nerves can alter blood flow and ultimately affect your extremities.

Make the headaches stop…please!

Most people who suffer from chronic headaches and migraines, facial pain, discomfort in their neck, shoulder pain and back pain don’t realize that TMJ might be a main cause.

Should your temporomandibular joint be misaligned, the muscles around your face, head and neck are constantly strained. Each movement causes more stress on those joints and muscles. Even when you are relaxing, the muscles are not ‘at rest’ in their natural position and stress is created (due to the unbalanced joint). All of the extra strain on the muscles in your head, face and neck can lead to headaches, TMJ migraines and tightness and pain in all those connected muscles.

Will headaches be the end of me?

When your muscles are relentlessly tightened and strained, tension headaches can be the result. The build-up of blood pressure can also cause TMJ headaches. When the muscles in your neck, face and head are strained, they prevent blood from flowing correctly to them. Your body then attempts to correct the problem by sending more blood to the area, which raises the blood pressure. Vascular headaches, the feeling of pressure around the head, can be very painful.

Headaches are a common complaint of TMJ sufferers. TMJ headaches are most often felt in your temple area, behind the eyes and at the back of the head, with the pain extending to your neck and shoulders.

TMJ headaches are usually so frequent and painful that they are usually misdiagnosed as migraines. Migraine headaches are typically on one side of your head and are often accompanied by visual disturbances and extreme light sensitivity. The treatment for migraine headaches is much different from headaches due to dislocated joints, so it’s important for a trained medical professional to make the diagnosis.

I Have Weird Ears... Ringing, Itching, Stabbing Pains, Vertigo

What’s that ringing in my ears?

Your doctor has never been able to find the reason behind all the trouble your ears are causing you. Your doctor uses a light, looks inside and around your eyes, your mouth, your ears, your nose, and comes to the conclusion that there is no problem. They can’t explain your symptoms. But, you know the whistling noise is real and you experience episodes of dizziness so intense you have to hold on to something.

Vertigo, ear congestion, persistent earaches, dizzies, whistling or ringing in your ears. . . . these can all be symptoms of TMJ Disorder.

Here is what is going on medically:

Over-activity of your jaw can make your ear canal sensitive and can result in numerous symptoms. Your ear has 2 major muscles: the tensor tympani (it attaches to the ear drum, stabilizing it from the excessive vibration caused by loud noises) and the tensor levi palatini (it attaches to the Eustachian tube helping to equalize the pressure within the inner ear… this is what “unplugs” your ears when you chew gum or suck a hard candy on an airplane).

Jaw misalignment and the strain it puts on these two muscles can result in a multitude of symptoms related to your ears. The symptoms are the result of having a jaw that is not aligned causing a strained bite.

The jaw area is an intricate network of muscles and nerves. When the bite is unbalanced – muscles and nerves in the head, including the ears, can be affected. An annoying, and very common, effect is persistent whistling or ringing in your ears.

It can also lead to:

  • dizziness
  • vertigo
  • ear pain or discomfort (earaches)
  • restricted or impaired hearing
  • congested or stuffy feeling in your ears
  • sinus pain

By realigning and stabilizing your jaw, your bite will be restored back to its normal relaxed position, relieving the issues in your ears caused by the unbalanced bite.

Yes... You Can Have a Day Without Pain

So, it’s just going to get worse?”

When pain is controlling your life, that isn’t living life at all.

You need to stop the pain – now.

You’re not exactly sure what’s at the root of it and you aren’t entirely sure when it first began. What you do know is you are in constant pain.

You are unable to focus, concentrate or function. You are alienating your family and friends. You just don’t care about anything.

Pain is a convoluted problem and it can affect each and every part of your life.

It can compromise your:

  • physical fitness,
  • emotional balance,
  • mental abilities,
  • social status,
  • economical future,
  • and personal choices,

all resulting in a poor quality of life.

“Why does it hurt?”

Pain is the way your brain tells you that something is wrong. It is like a ‘check engine’ light that shows up in your vehicle. It alerts you to stop and take notice. It’s an early warning sign that needs your focus before anything more serious happens.

When you have an unbalanced bite, it causes an unbalanced jaw joint (TMJ) that, eventually, is not working correctly. This results in the jaw joint’s over-compensation for your bad bite. The tired, strained muscles from an unbalanced bite can result in pain that will materialize in the form of migraines, headaches, ear-aches, muscle tenderness, facial discomfort, a sore jaw and many other symptoms.

With modern equilibration techniques, your chronic pain can be a thing of the past.

“What should I do? I’ve got ten people telling me different things.”

You may feel like you are bearing this burden alone and family and friends don’t fathom how bad your pain is. Some of them may even question the legitimacy of your symptoms. But don’t doubt yourself, your symptoms are real. Please, do NOT doubt what YOU feel.

Remember when you lived every day carefree and lighthearted? Your days were filled with joy and laughter, instead of irritation and pain. Pain should be a four-letter word that you never have to say again. Now that you understand what is at the base of your problems, you have the chance to do something about it.

Call Gaudio Cosmetic Dentistry today.

A full night’s sleep... So why are you sleepy?

Are you more tired in the morning than you were when you went to sleep? Are your days spent tired, weary and half awake? Do you constantly feel like you didn’t get enough sleep? Have you had episodes of “instant sleep” during the day? While working at the office, at lunch, or, worst of all, behind the wheel? Instant sleep can not only embarrass you, but, be deadly as well.

Robert wakes up every morning very exhausted. This doesn’t only happen after a particularly late night or every once in awhile, but each and every day. After a scary commute where he almost always falls asleep while driving, he sluggishly and awkwardly drags himself through the day. Robert acts, looks and feels a lot older than his real age.

What if these symptoms are linked to malocclusion? There is often an over-looked, yet equally as important, link between sleep disturbances, airway problems and clenching and grinding from a bad bite.

Important connection between sleeping and malocclusion.

Do you wonder how TMJ might be connected to your lack of restful sleep? How does an incorrect placement of your teeth or jaw joint affect you and lead to various night-time associated conditions?

Clenching and Grinding

When you have malocclusion, your mouth and, amazingly, your whole body work all night long trying to find a comfortable position. At night, your mouth is like a blindfolded bull in a china shop trying to clear a path through the protruding shelves and the fragile crystal. You clench to try to squeeze down teeth that are sticking up too far and you grind to try to reduce the high points on your teeth. And, if you’re thinking that all of that doesn’t sound like the makings of a really good night’s sleep, you are absolutely right.

When you clench and grind your teeth, you use some of the most powerful muscles in the human body. These kinds of muscle contractions might cause early morning headaches and/or tension headaches, and in many cases damage surrounding ligaments, teeth, as well as other muscles.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep issue that happens when a person’s breathing is irregular during sleep due to the airway being restricted or blocked. Undiagnosed sleep apnea can stop a person’s breathing during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. Many people suffering from sleep apnea are unaware they even have it. It can take a bedmate to alert them to the situation.

Move out of the way, tongue!

Your tongue is attached to your lower jaw and when your bite is not aligned correctly, the tongue acts as a pillow. It cushions the jaw and helps it to relax. An unevenness in your bite affects the size of your mouth and the altered size of your mouth doesn’t fit your tongue anymore. Your tongue doesn’t rest where it should. If your tongue sits too far back in your mouth, it will prevent air from getting to your lungs.

Snoring or sleep apnea can be a direct result of your TMJ. Snoring may be more of a problem for people who have a severe overbite. When your upper teeth cover your lower teeth, it could indicate that your tongue is forced into the back of your mouth. This inhibits your breathing and aggravates the sleep apnea and snoring.

The ripple effects of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a condition affecting the amount and quality of the rest you get every night. Clearly, if you are experiencing serious disruptions in your regular sleep patterns, you will suffer the consequences. You will feel exhausted throughout the day and your daytime performance and concentration will suffer.

Sleep apnea side effects include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • irritability and aggressive behavior
  • memory and concentration difficulties

If you are waking up groggy and exhausted each morning there might be a direct connection to a constant struggle with TMJ. Jaw issues and sleepless nights might seem unrelated, but they could be the link, and the answer, you are looking for.

I’m looking older than my real age

If you don’t see Dr. Gaudio soon about your destructive malocclusion, your teeth will continue to crack and wear down until your happy face starts to droop. Twenty years from now, the teeth will have worn down until it has completely disappeared.

Nothing gives away your age more than your smile. The wear and tear of a bad bite can  radically impact the way your smile looks. Your lips may lose their fullness and shape. Wrinkles and creases may develop and expand along the sides of your mouth and nose. Jowls begin to show up and your lower lip begins to roll out. You hardly recognize yourself. A poorly aligned jaw causes deterioration of your teeth, making them chipped and worn. Gum recession could develop. Your bottom front teeth may begin to shift and seem crooked.

The domino effect…

In addition to some noticeable cosmetic transformations to your teeth and face, a misaligned jaw might create numerous physical changes.

Malocclusion and TMJ can greatly affect your whole body’s postural appearance, not just of the neck and head. According to some TMJ experts, the resulting body position is sometimes called the “Vulture.”

The bones in the neck, especially the atlas and axis, are directly connected to the muscles that control biting, talking, chewing, breathing and head posture. Tight, sore, contracted muscles of the jaw will create a misalignment of the head and shoulders causing compensation in the neck, shoulder and back muscles.

If you have an unbalanced bite, then your muscle tension and activity will also be unbalanced. When those muscles are over-contracted, it impacts and ‘pulls’ the muscles that hold up your head creating a forward-facing posture. It looks as though you are slouching.

This slouching action can be mimicked throughout your body – pulling and stressing your shoulder, face, neck and back muscles. The result can be one shoulder or hip higher than the other, having facial features that are uneven and can even give someone a buck-tooth appearance.

When your whole body is not lined up properly, it has an adverse effect on your physical and athletic performance. You will find yourself increasingly without energy and tired throughout the day. Your sense of control, balance and strength will be diminished. Each movement requires more effort.

What are the noises in my head?

Your teeth and jaw are not making noises because they’re old.

Over time there is going to be significant wear and tear on anything you use daily – this also applies to your teeth. Think about it! You use them day-in and day-out. Pretty much everything you do requires the use of your teeth.

Every day, your teeth assist in your ability to breathe, kiss, talk, eat, drink and swallow. You chew with them, bite with them, grind them, brush them, floss them and, quite often, (albeit unconsciously) abuse them. However, even if you and your teeth have rode the trails together for many years, that doesn’t mean they should start making noises.

  • When you chew or flex your face – does it create a CLICKING or POPPING noise?
  • Have friends or family members mentioned how loud the noise was?
  • When you yawn, do you hear a loud SNAP on one or both sides of your jaw?
  • When you are chewing, do your teeth ever “slip” and make a SCRAPING noise like fingernails on a chalkboard?

If you answered yes to even 1 of those questions, there is something wrong. A healthy and normal TMJ is quiet when it’s working. During eating, chewing, singing, swallowing, talking and even breathing, you should feel no pain or experience anything unusual. The muscles that control your jaw should work together, allowing you to open and close your mouth both silently and smoothly and without discomfort.

A constant CLICKING, POPPING and SNAPPING when you engage in everyday activities indicates that something isn’t right. CLICKING, POPPING and discomfort are signs that your jaw joint is unstable.

POP goes the disc

There is a cartilage disc inside of your jaw joint, preventing your jaw bone from rubbing directly on your skull. When the jaw muscles move this disc out of place, the disc can be stretched too far and then snap back, which causes the CLICKING and POPPING sound you hear. At times, it is loud enough to be heard by other people.

When your jaw is unbalanced and supported incorrectly, it can limit the range of motion of the jaw. You are at a co-worker’s house for dinner and suddenly you can’t open your mouth wide enough to eat. When you yawn or talk, you feel like you need to help support your jaw. Your ability to open your mouth completely or widely can be limited and painful if you suffer from TMJ.

The “Muscle vs. Tooth” War

In this war, 3 things may happen:

  • If your muscles win, you will have rapid tooth wear
  • If your teeth win, you will have muscle tension and stress as well as headaches and other TMD symptoms
  • Even worse: you will experience a combination of both jaw misalignment and teeth wear. A poorly aligned jaw accelerates teeth deterioration, causing them to look ground down and worn.
    The impact can shorten your teeth causing:
  • Changes in the shape of your lips.
  • Creases and wrinkles to form and become deeper on the sides of your mouth and nose.
  • The appearance of jowls on the sides of your jaw.

Contact

Gaudio Cosmetic Dentistry

Joseph Gaudio, DDS

530 East Main Street • PO Box 724 • Chester, NJ 07930

(908) 879-4001

Office Hours

Monday

 

Closed

Tuesday

 

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Wednesday

 

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Thursday

 

7:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Friday

 

7:00 AM - 3:00 PM

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