Pacific Dental Spa

Family Dentistry

Does Your Jaw Make Noises or Hurt?

Did you know that some TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint) disorders may be caused by dentist?

     It turns out that the strongest muscles in our body are in our mouth; as well as the strongest tissues (our teeth). The teeth are designed to withstand the muscle pressure that each and everyone of us may have. But, when teeth are changed in shape and/or size with decay, big fillings and/or crowns or even extractions and/or crowding, not always will the same chewing surface remain afterwards. But we will still keep the same muscle mass. The remaining teeth will have to support the muscle mass of the absent teeth or the teeth that are not in proper use. Causing then an increment of pressure on one or both TMJ´s, aside from the teeth.

     There are three points of contact with the only moving bone in our head, the lower jaw (mandible), and the rest of our skull. They are the left and right TMJ, and the teeth with their opposites. The only thing keeping the mandible articulated would be the softer tissues such as the skin, blood vessels, muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc. The upper portion of the mandible that articulates with the base of the skull is mainly composed of cartilidge. We also have a articular disc (shock absorber) and the bone ( base of the skull ). These three tissues are far more softer than the enamel on the teeth. So if there is excess pressure on the mandible, the softer tissues will start to deteriorate faster than the teeth, causing then a TMJ disorder.

How to look for common signs and/or symptoms of a TMJ disorder

     Not always will we have a symptom when having a TMJ disorder. But the signs are there! Its is always important to take proper studies to confirm the diagnosis, such as an x-ray. Some possible signs could be:

     - Abnormal wear on the cuspids of the teeth or fissures (hair line fractures) in the teeth

     - Clicking and/or popping noises when opening our mouth

     - Deviation of the mandible when opening our mouth

     - Mouth locked open or closed when we yawn or open too far

     - Clenching and/or grinding of your teeth while your sleeping & waking up with your

       mouth tired and/or sore

     - Insomnia caused by clenching and / or grinding of the teeth

     - Big restorations (These may change the anatomy of the tooth and may not function


Common symptoms of a possible TMJ disorder:

     - Constant headaches and/or migraines

     - Strange ear noises and/or pain and in sever cases, hear loss

     - Pain in the lower temple area ( front of the ear )

     - Not being able to chew food correctly

     - Uncontrollable jaw and/or tongue movements

     - Eye pains and/or sensitive to light

     - Loose teeth caused by clenching

     - Limited opening of the mouth

     - Stiffness of the neck as well as pain