Many people have experienced a headache and/or an earache that had no apparent cause. Some aches and pains are common enough that you might disregard their occurrence as a fluke, or just the effects of a difficult day. Some patients are fond of saying, “I must’ve pulled something,” even if they can’t actually recall having done so. The truth, though, is that your body does not generate signals of discomfort for no reason. While an occasional twinge or spasm may not always be reason for concern, regular or frequent occurrences should not be ignored. In many cases, seemingly unexplainable discomfort is the result of TMJ disorder, which is a troublesome jaw dysfunction with a wide range of symptoms.
Thoughts of dental health usually revolve around teeth and gums, and occasionally the tongue. Yet, none of these structures would be able to perform their duties without the driving force of the jaw, which can exert up to 200 pounds of pressure or more on your back teeth. The lower jaw, or mandible, is connected to the skull at the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) that are located just in front of each ear. These large joints and the muscles around them allow your jaw to move in many directions to accomplish its goals.
However, undue pressure can cause these joints to become misaligned, generating discomfort throughout the jaw, face, head, neck, ears, and shoulder regions. The pain can manifest itself as discomfort in any or all of these areas, mimicking the symptoms of many other illnesses and complicating an accurate diagnosis.
If you experience one, all, or any combination of the following symptoms, speak with your dentist soon about the possibility of TMJ disorder;
TMJ disorder and its associated discomfort can result from a number of issues that strain the jaw’s joints. Common issues can include crooked teeth (malocclusion), a congenital jaw defect, a serious injury, or a host of other issues. After a thorough and comprehensive examination, which may include X-rays of the mouth and jaws, your dentist can help determine the cause of your TMJ disorder and prescribe an appropriate course of treatment.
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