Your bite’s balance can be a tricky thing to gauge. As the most visually dominant part of your smile, teeth are typically noticeable when they’re crooked, and can be detected and treated before the imbalance damages any of your mouth’s components. If your jaw’s joints are damaged or crooked, however, you might not notice by simply looking at yourself in the mirror. Since your jaw’s two joints move simultaneously, balance is especially important to those joints and the muscles that surround them.
How Your Jaw Should Work
TMJ disorder is the name commonly given to dysfunctions involving your jaw and its surrounding structures. The temporomandibular joints (TMJs) connect your lower jaw to the temporal bones in your skull, located in front of and below each ear. When you bite and chew, you can see and feel your jaw’s muscles tense around the joints. TMJs are hinge joints that allow the jawbone to simultaneously pivot and slide while distributing pressure evenly along the entire joint. An injury, a bite imbalance, or a habit of grinding your teeth can place undue pressure on your TMJs, which can damage the joints’ disks and cause inflammation or misalignment.
Factors for TMJ Disorder
An excessive level of chronic stress is one of the most well-known factors behind TMJ discomfort, and can result from continuously tensing your jaw’s muscles when anxious or agitated. Several dental reasons can also contribute to jaw joint damage, including;
- Crooked teeth—when your teeth aren’t aligned properly, your jaw has to compensate by shifting its position to keep your mouth straight when you bite and chew.
- Bruxism—habitually grinding your teeth exposes your jaw joints and muscles to more strain than they were meant to bear.
- Chewing on hard objects—chewing on pens, pencils, ice cubes, buttons, or anything else you might be fond of nervously chewing can do as much damage as bruxism to your teeth and your jaw.
- Missing teeth—like crooked teeth, missing teeth disturb your smile’s balance and can force your jaw to work harder to bite and chew properly.
About Your Livonia General Dentist:
Our philosophy is that excellent dental begins with developing a relationship with the patient. James Steward, DDS, and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (734) 425-4400.