The most common symptom of TMJ disorder is a degree of discomfort. Persistent pain, limited range of motion and a grating sensation will drive a patient to seek a diagnosis for their problem. This combination of symptoms often points to a TMJ disorder. Does TMJD have an effect on the gums or the teeth? A little basic information about TMJ disorders offers some clues.
TMJ disorder risk factors
It is common knowledge that cavities happen when harmful mouth bacteria attack the enamel. The causes of TMJD are not as clear cut. Still, some groups of people are more likely than others to suffer from TMJ disorders. For example:
- Stressed people are at high risk of jaw clenching, which can lead to TMJD
- People who suffer from bruxism (chronic teeth grinding and jaw clenching)
- Patients with musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis
- Persons with a history of trauma to the mouth
- A person with a bad bite or misaligned jaw is more likely to suffer from TMJD than a person with well-aligned teeth
Existing conditions increase a person’s chances of developing TMJ disorders. However, TMJD can happen in the absence of clear causes. The disorder also manifests with symptoms that vary from one patient to the next. As an example, TMJD may or may not affect a patient’s teeth and gums. Here is how it can.
Possible effects of TMJ disorder on teeth
The teeth sit in the jaw, so it is not much of a stretch to expect TMJD to affect said teeth. Take the patient who grinds their teeth and also happens to suffer from TMJD. More likely than not, this person suffers tooth pain from the pressure that they put on their teeth.
Second, TMJ can cause a bad bite. A patient who suddenly starts to experience a bad bite may favor some teeth while putting excess pressure on others. This could in turn cause tooth fractures and sensitivity in affected teeth.
Third, TMJD sometimes makes it hard for a patient to open and close their mouth. If the person has to make an effort to do simple tasks like eating or talking, they may lose the motivation to stick to a strict oral hygiene routine. This could lead to knock-on effects like cavities and tooth decay.
The effect of TMJD on the gums
Fractures, cavities and tooth decay are effectively a breach of tooth enamel. Harmful mouth bacteria can then make it past the compromised enamel and into the inner tooth. Once the bacteria reach the inner tooth, the resulting infection destroys the dental pulp and continues to spread beneath the gum line.
Harmful bacteria can also attack the gums directly. The TMJD patient with limited motion in the jaw may relax their oral hygiene routine and experience plaque buildup. With time, the plaque can mineralize to form tartar. The bacteria that take up residence, and the plaque/tartar will attack the gums. It would only take a short while for the infection to become mild or moderate gum disease.
Get your oral health back on track
Treatment for TMJ disorder restores the health of your entire mouth. This is a great reason why you should refuse to normalize a stiff, aching jaw. Call our office to make an appointment today. Our dentist is happy to add you to their list of happy patients that have kicked TMJD out of their daily lives.
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