The Domino Effect

    It all starts with a misalignment of one of the temporo-mandibular joints. When this happens the soft tissues get jammed and this causes pain. In order to relieve the pain the muscles pull the joint away from the soft tissues in pain and this can actually cause the other joint to be in the wrong position! Unfortunately, to keep the soft tissues from being jammed the muscles have to work constantly. The muscles are not bone and they are not meant to deal with this constant strain and become fatigues, then they split, begin spasming and then you will feel significant pain.

      The temporalis muscle fans out over the temple and when this muscle is in pain it can be a significant headache that is often mistaken for a migraine. What’s worse is that it can actually be a trigger for a migraine and this can make TMJ diagnosis even more difficult. Other muscles that work the jaw can be in pain and cause facial pain that doesn’t seem to have a specific point. Because of where the sternocleidomastoid attaches it becomes stressed, tenses up and can begin spasms. Eventually this can affect balance, especially combined with inner ear issues caused by TMJ. But there are other effects. As your sternocleidomastoid tenses up your neck bends forward. This affects your posture and can cause problems with your back muscles, which in turn affect your legs!

      Tooth grinding is one tmj symptom that perfectly illustrates the domino effect. As TMJ Dysfunction causes tooth grinding the actual grinding effect causes other problems. As the teeth grind against each other they will actually wear each other down, flattening them. Grinding causes incredible stress on the teeth and will actually cause the enamel to flex, which it is not designed to do. This flexing will cause fractures which can kill the teeth! If a tooth dies it needs to be removed and replaced, but unfortunately no tooth replacement option can deal with the stress of grinding long term either. This will cause the replacement to fail and waste your money.

      Jaw clicking and popping are common TMJ symptoms. This can be caused by an actual dislocation of the condyle as it comes out of it’s seat in the mandibular fossa. It can also be caused by damage to the ligaments that hold the articular disc in place, causing it to shift when the mouth is being moved. These sensations canbe quite disconcerting and unsettling leading to a lack of eating. This can in turn cause malnutrition, causing a host of other health problems.

      The pain caused by tmj problems can cause insomnia. It becomes more difficult to get to sleep and to get deep, restful sleep once you actually are asleep. You need your rest and when you don’t get enough of it personality changes can occur. Constant irritability, quick temper, moodiness and depression are common symptoms and this can have a profound impact on your social life.

      If you are suffering from any of these TMJ symptoms do not suffer in silence and do not wait to seek treatment. Even if you have been unsuccessfully treated for TMJ in the past do not let it discourage you, it is possible to get relief from your unpleasant symptoms. TMJ treatment is not an instantaneous cure and can take devotion on the parts of patient and dentist alike.

© 2012  Dr Mark Padolsky - Atlanta TMJ Dentist  |  1624 Piedmont Avenue, NE

Atlanta, Georgia 30324  |  404-876-8123