tmj-lockeHopefully, you can take pride in the fact that you diligently brush and floss your teeth every day, and visit your Waco dentist at least once every six months for a routine dental checkup and cleaning. By adhering to the simple rules of good dental hygiene, you can help ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy and disease-free. Yet, how well does your mouth operate? The point of keeping your teeth healthy and present is so that they can continue to perform their primary duties of biting and chewing, which can only be accomplished through movement. Dr. Corbet Locke explores the condition that affects this movement, called TMJ disorder, and discusses the jaw dysfunction’s complex array of symptoms that often make diagnosis difficult.

Understanding Your Jaw’s Movement

Like any hinged body part, your jaw is connected to your skull by two joints—the temporomandibular joints. Called TMJs for short, they’re designed for your lower jaw, or mandible, to glide smoothly in the joints’ sockets, displacing the pressure of your bite evenly instead of absorbing it all at a single point. Both of your TMJs move in tandem and balance is essential to their smooth operation. In some cases, such as an imbalanced bite or habitual teeth-grinding, the joints can absorb excessive amounts of pressure that can damage them or force them out of alignment, often causing the TMJs and surrounding muscles to become inflamed; a condition called TMJ disorder.

Widespread Consequences

Since TMJ disorder affects your jaw’s joints, pain and soreness in your jaw may be the most obvious symptoms of the dysfunction. However, your jaw’s nerve is only one of three branches of the trigeminal nerve that innervates most of your craniofacial structures. When the nerve is disturbed at your jaw, the pain can be transferred anywhere along the nerve’s path, and common symptoms of TMJ disorder also include chronic headaches, earaches, neck pain, back pain, facial soreness, difficulty opening and/or closing your mouth, and many more. The diversity can make an accurate diagnosis difficult, and many patients endure seemingly-unrelated chronic pain for years before discovering and treating TMJ disorder.

Find Relief from TMJ Disorder with Help from Your Waco Dentist

To learn more about TMJ disorder and how it can affect your quality of life, or to find relief from chronic TMJ-related discomfort, schedule a consultation with Dr. Locke by calling our Waco dentist’s office at (254) 776-4888. Located in the 76712 area, we proudly welcome patients from Waco, Woodway, McGregor, Hewitt, and surrounding communities.