In October, the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI) celebrates Bone and Joint Health National Awareness Week. The USBJI explains that in the U.S. population over 18 years of age, nearly half experience musculoskeletal, or bone and joint, conditions. Examples include back pain, arthritis, traumatic injuries, osteoporosis, and childhood bone and joint disorders. People are living longer today, so we should expect a growing incidence of musculoskeletal conditions. Today, they are the number one cause of severe, long term pain and physical disability. One of the musculoskeletal conditions is a decline in TMJ joint health.
You may be asking why this information appears on a dentist’s blog. The importance of healthy bones and joints to dental health lies in the jaw area. The jaw holds your teeth in place, so weakened bones can affect your ability to retain your teeth. In addition, the temporomandibular joints connect your skull to your jaw. This joint is just in front of your ears. Healthy jaw joints allow us to eat, speak, and swallow, free from pain. Misaligned TMJs can lead to temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, a disease that can cause chronic pain and low quality of life.
Dental health linked to TMJ joint health and jawbone health
An unhealthy bone and joint system in the jaw can create or aggravate the following conditions:
Temporomandibular joint disorder:
When you have a disorder of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, or the facial nerves, you have a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. Physical or mental stress sometimes causes patients to place excessive stress and strain on the jaw muscles. Bruxism, defined as clenching and grinding of the teeth ( which often occurs at night), is a leading cause of jaw muscle strain, though TMJ disorder can cause bruxism, as well. Disorders include myo-facial pain, degenerative joint disease, and dislocation or displacement of the jaw or disks in the joints. Pain ranges from moderate to nagging to debilitating. As a TMJ doctor, Dr. James Fondriest can address TMJ misalignment, without surgery in most cases.Tooth loss can affect TMJ joint health:
Gum disease can lead to jawbone deterioration and is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States. The loss of teeth creates problems in everyday life tasks, such as chewing, talking, and swallowing. Losing teeth negatively alters appearance and self image. Chicago dentist Dr. Fondriest offers complete periodontal treatment, so he can deter, diagnose, and treat gum disease in its various stages.
The jawbone factors into the appearance of the human face. Jawbone deterioration, which can be caused by gum disease as described above, may lead to facial collapse. What is facial collapse? Teeth support cheeks and lips, and the jawbone adds length to one’s profile. Missing teeth and deteriorating jawbone density can allow for: sunken cheeks, inward curling lips, and a shorter distance from ear to chin. These attributes contribute to an older, less healthy appearance. The changed appearance of the patient can markedly affect self confidence.
How arthritis starts in your jaw joint
When you bite and chew, the circulation in your temporomandibular joint is stimulated. This sends needed nutrients to the joint. When you have gum problems, the act of chewing sends blood borne bacteria to the joint. The TMJ joint health can be compromised if it is exposed for long periods. An inflammatory response begins and an arthritic breakdown starts.
Learn more about TMJ joint health
Excellent self care of your teeth and gums may help you avoid the gum disease and related jawbone and joint problems. Regular, six month check ups in our Chicago area dental office will allow us to detect and treat gum disease at the earliest stage.
If tooth loss occurs, consider dental implants. Dr. Fondriest, your TMJ and implant dentist in Chicago, can place dental implants, the only dental prosthetic that promotes jawbone density retention. Dental implants stimulate the jaw in a way that dentures do not. In addition, dental implants look, feel, and perform similar to natural teeth. Call our 60045 dentist office today to make an appointment; call (847) 234-0517).