Everyone knows the worst enemies of teeth are sugar, starchy foods as well as poor daily dental care. Yet whether you’re from Carlsbad, California or Karlsbad, Germany, one enemy that comes in the night to damage your teeth is your own teeth themselves. Teeth grinding (bruxism
) is a fairly common dental problem. Yet it may be a symptom of a larger problem called Temporomandibular joint (TMJ
) disorder. The Temporomandibular Joint
The TMJ is the joint which connects your jaw to your skull. As this area is closely connected to the neck and spine, problems there can affect the TMJ. Damage or misalignment of this joint can cause the TMJ disorder (TMJD
) whose main symptom is chronic pain. TMJD is usually treated by your dentists and sometimes a neurologist. Yet when TMJD is the result of something like a sport’s injury or accident trauma such as a car accident, then your dentist
may need the help of a chiropractor.
Who is Affected by TMJD?
At any one time there may be as many 35 million Americans who are experiencing TMJD. While TMJD can happen to men and women equally the bulk of the patients who seek treatment are women of childbearing age. This is generally due to the fact that women seem to have more acute symptoms of chronic pain. However TMJD conditions which are caused due to trauma are more often seen in those who lead a more active lifestyle or anyone suffering from common side-effects of traffic accidents such as whiplash.The Joint Dentist-Chiropractor TMJ Treatment
Many causes of TMJD come about due to misalignment of the jaw in relation to the skull. When this is due to trauma, the condition can be exacerbated due to neck and spine injuries. The main symptom of TMJD is pain which can be made worse by additional pain due to the neck and/or spine trauma. While dentists can deal with the misalignment of the temporomandibular joint itself, they need the help of a chiropractor to deal with the neck and spine.Reducing Stress
One of the side-effects of chronic pain is stress. This stress in turn can cause elevated blood pressure, depression, impair judgement and/or memory and an increased susceptibility to disease. Therefore it is critical to reduce chronic pain before it causes even more damage than the original trauma which is causing the pain in the first place. Many of the TMJD treatments (such as biofeedback
to reduce teeth grinding) take time but if the patient is also suffering from back and neck pain, these dental treatments will not be as effective. Thus having a chiropractor deal with the secondary pain is critical to TMJ treatment.
Talk to your Dentist
TMJD has many symptoms and side-effects but if you suffer from it due to trauma, talk to your dentist about the potential for dual treatment from a chiropractor as well. Reducing pain and stress through chiropractic means will allow proper TMJ treatment by your dentist which will get you back to living a healthy and pain free life again.
Photo Credit: drweisberger