What causes TMJ/TMD?
The upper and lower jaws are connected to the temporal bones of the skull by a hinge called the temporomandibular joint. This joint is positioned at the front of each ear. You are able to chew your food, talk, yawn and slide your jaw from side to side because of this joint. When you have problems with this joint you are said to have temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ/TMD.
The exact causes of the disorder are not well known, however it is believed that issues with the joint and surrounding tissues cause symptoms of the disorder to appear. Some of the issues leading to symptoms are such things as:
- Arthritis around the joint
- Anxiety and stress, particularly if you have a tendency to clench your teeth or tighten your facial muscles when experiencing either
- Clenching your jaws or grinding your teeth, this often happens at night while sleeping so you may not even be aware that you are doing it
- Problems with the disc between the ball and socket of the joint
- Injury; a hard blow to the face can produce symptoms as can whiplash
Can You Prevent TMJ Syndrome?
There are some adjustments you can make to prevent problems with your temporomandibular joint. If you find you are under a lot of stress learning how to manage it can help. Muscle tension contributes to TMJ/TMD; implementing muscle relaxing exercises and stress management techniques will help you relax those muscles. If you are on the phone much of the time, use a headset if possible instead of cradling the receiver with your head and shoulder. Constant use of your jaw muscles exacerbates the problem so abstain from chewing your fingernails constantly. Keep gum chewing to a minimum.
For more information on how TMJ/TMD its causes and prevention, contact The Central Park South TMJ Center. We have experts on the subject who will instruct you on how to keep your temporomandibular joint healthy.