Symptoms of TMJ
TMJ... The Frustrating Disease
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?”
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?
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.
*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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
A full night’s sleep... So why are you sleepy?
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?
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:
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.
What are the noises in my head?
- 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
Gaudio Cosmetic Dentistry
Joseph Gaudio, DDS
530 East Main Street • PO Box 724 • Chester, NJ 07930
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