Three Problems Associated with TMJ Disorder


Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a painful condition with symptoms that include severe headaches, sensitive teeth, ear pain, muscle soreness, and difficulty opening and closing the jaw comfortably. The TMJs hold your bottom jaw to your top jaw. When problems develop in these joints, they can cause TMJ disorder. Various causes of the disorder include jaw injury or trauma, arthritis, misalignment of the jaw, arthritis of the jawjoints, and chronic bruxism.

About half of patients show symptoms associated with TMJ disorder, which can cause serious health complications. The following describes three issues associated with TMJ disorder.

Headaches Related to TMJ Disorder

Those with TMJ disorder may suffer from severe headaches or migraines. The reason for this is the trigeminal nerve controls the joints in your jaw. In fact, this particular nerve is responsible for 70% of input to your brain. When the trigeminal nerve is irritated, it can cause serious headaches. TMJ disorder often affects the function of this nerve, and so migraines are common in patients with the disorder.

The Effects of Bruxism on the TMJs

Bruxism, or tooth grinding during sleep, can cause TMJ disorder because it places a great deal of pressure on the jaw throughout the night. The jaw handles about 30-50 pounds of pressure per square inch when we eat. Bruxism puts about 600 pounds of pressure per square inch on the jaw during sleep. This can create problems with the TMJs and patients may develop TMJ disorder. The constant grinding often associated with TMJ can cause tooth sensitivity. Bruxism also wears down the natural groves of your teeth, which help keep the jaw aligned. Chronic bruxism thus contributes to the misalignment of your jaw, which also causes TMJ disorder.

TMJ Disorder and Ringing in the Ears

TMJ disorder is often concurrent with a condition called tinnitus, which is simply ringing in the ears. Tinnitus actually occurs in conjunction with bruxism, because the over use of jaw muscles can cause the ear canal to become sensitive. When the jaw closes under extreme pressure, it can irritate the two major muscles in the ears. Clenching also causes strain on the trigeminal nerve, which controls ear function. These two factors may cause patients to experience ringing in the ears.

Schedule an Appointment

TMJ disorder is treatable. Dr. James Fondriest offers treatment for TMJ disorder relative to the degree of discomfort and the severity of the condition. If you suffer from symptoms of TMJ disorder, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Fondriest by calling our Lake Forest dentist office at (847) 234-0517. We serve the Chicago, Illinois area.