Have you experienced pain while chewing or biting your food? Do you suffer from pain in your neck, and/or facial muscles? Do you often experience headaches? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be suffering from TMJ disorder.

What Is TMJ Disorder?

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, refers to the joint that connects your skull to your jawbone. Your have two TMJs, with one on each side that work in unison. Technically speaking, if you are suffering from pain associated with your TMJs, then you are suffering from TMJ disorder, or TMD.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder can manifest in a number of different ways and can be related to a number of causes. Most TMJ issues arise due to problems with the joint itself, or the surrounding muscles of the jawbone, if they are put under intense stress. This extreme stress can be manifested by either mental or physical factors.

The two most common causes of TMJ disorder:

Malocclusion, which refers to a misalignment of the jaw that causes the upper and lower arches of teeth to meet improperly. Malocclusion places a disproportionate amount of stress on the muscles and joints of the jaw.

Bruxism, commonly referred to as teeth grinding, wears down the teeth. Aside from damaging your teeth, bruxism is a major contributor to the development of TMJ disorder because of the stress repetitive grinding and clenching puts on the jaw muscles and joints.

Other factors that can cause TMJ disorder:

Emotional stress—Whether conscious or subconscious, emotional stress can lead to bruxism.

• Gum chewing, fingernail biting—Although outwardly appearing harmless, gum chewing and other habits that involve an excessive amount of chewing or biting can lead to TMJ issues.

• Arthritis—Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis of the TMJ can cause pain.

• Excessive jaw movements—Over-opening the jaw beyond its normal range can lead to TMJ problems. You may wish to think twice before attempting to put that triple-cheeseburger in your mouth. You should always cut up a large meal into smaller, more manageable bites.

• Occupational tasks—For example, an occupation that calls for you to hold a telephone between your head and shoulder for long periods of time has been linked to TMJ problems.

Schedule An Appointment With Your Waco Dentist Today

To learn more about your TMJs, and to find out if you might be suffering from TMD or TMJ-related maladies, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Corbet Locke today by calling our Waco dentist office at 254-776-4888. We welcome patients from Waco, Woodway, McGregor, Hewitt, and surrounding communities.