Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ, is a problem that affects the jaw as well as the joint and muscles surrounding the jaw. Research has shown, however, that the effects of TMJ are more than just a localized condition. Let us consider the interconnected nature between TMJ and how your entire body functions.
How Your Jaw Is Connected Throughout the Body
First of all, TMJ throws off the balance of the entire body. The spine is rather slender compared to the size of the human head that it must support. If anything is out of alignment, including the jaw, it can cause everything to become misaligned. The result can often be headaches. This occurs when long-term muscle tension around the jaw turns into tension in the face and neck. Tension headaches may begin to recur. Even more concerning is the fact that this imbalance can be transferred down the spine resulting in muscle tension all over.
Pinched nerves are another painful side effect of TMJ. The trigeminal nerve, for example, is very close to the jaw. Pinching this nerve can result in back and neck pain. From there, pain often travels to the extremities.
The Results of TMJ Correction
Correcting TMJ may be the first step in eliminating these other serious problems. Some patients have discovered that when their TMJ was fixed, other problems went away that they did not realize were related. For example, one woman found that her hand pain and gripping problems went away. Obviously, her TMJ had resulted in a problem with her brachial nerves. After correcting the root cause, the symptoms were relieved.
One of the primary connected issues is headaches including tension headaches and migraines. Fixing a problem with TMJ with frequently result in fewer headaches or relief from them altogether.
How Is TMJ Corrected?
The first step to overall health is correcting TMJ. This will also relieve any other symptoms that have TMJ as their root cause. Treatment for your TMJ will depend on an examination and the severity of the case. Treatments include:
· Conservative, Self-Treatments – This involves exercises for the jaw, a change in diet to make eating easier on the jaw, and the use of ice.
· Pain Management – NSAIDs, such as medications containing ibuprofen, may be prescribed or certain brands recommended if an over-the-counter dose is suitable.
· Bite Guards – This is more of a temporary relief of symptoms rather than a cure. Bite guards can only be used on a temporary basis and will not reverse the problem.
· Botox – Clinical trials are being used to determine if this is a viable treatment option for TMJ. This treatment is not currently approved by the FDA making it an off-label treatment option.
· Surgery – This is considered to be a last resort in extreme cases because the surgery is invasive and cannot be reversed. Be sure that your doctor discusses all of your available options before deciding on surgery.
· Implants – One form of TMJ surgery involves a surgical implant. Be sure to consider the possible effects before deciding on this option.
Contact your dentist today to see how dental treatment can alleviate the causes and symptoms of TMJ.