The temporomandibular joint disorder, called the TMJ in short, is a fairly common disorder of the jaw which affects nearly sixty million people in the American population. People who suffer from this condition are likely to experience pain that may be temporary, but may also last for at least a few years. For those who are affected with this problem, it is important to understand what causes TMJ disorder in order to treat it. It can't be stated for certain exactly what causes TMJ disorder, although there are some standard contributing factors. These factors can be categorized into the following groups:
1. Dental issues: TMJ disorder is most commonly caused as a result of derangement of the jaws. This is a condition known as "malocclusion" wherein your teeth are no longer able to fit together the way they are supposed to. This condition can be a result of situations such as ill fitting dentures, tooth removal or any minor or major dental surgery, missing teeth, advent of pre molars and growth of wisdom teeth.
2. Trauma: About 99% of TMJ sufferers claim that their condition was a result of some sort of trauma or injury. Even minor blows on the head, face or jaw can result in trauma. Whiplash and traction appliances used in whiplash injuries or problems like ill fitting braces can also prove to be contributing factors.
3. Habits: Some of the things we unwittingly do in our daily lives result in TMJ disorder. A common cause is bruxism, or the habit of continually clenching one's teeth. Bruxism puts undue pressure on the teeth and jaw resulting in the damage of cartilage and ligaments in the TMJ area. Other bad habits include chewing on pens/pencils, biting finger nails, chronic gum chewing and bad postures that put pressure on your face and jaw, such as, sleeping on your stomach and holding the phone on your shoulder.
4. Social situations: Stress has been known to cause tension in the muscles. Prolonged tightening of the muscles affects the TM Joint by putting enormous pressure on it. Eventually the tense muscles tend to shorten and result in misalignment. Social situations like family problems, financial issues, legal hassles and health concerns are stress inducers and must be dealt with.
5. Emotions: Emotional upheavals resulting from depression, anxiety, fear or anger have adverse affects that can negatively affect your whole body including the TM Joint.
Certain simple precautions should be kept in mind in order to prevent a TMJ disorder. For instance, although yawning is a reflex action, one must take care to not open one's mouth fully but partially while yawning. Similarly, excessive chewing of bubble gum, habits like biting nails or chewing on pencils must be avoided at all costs. As the TM joint facilitates essential activities like talking, chewing and swallowing, it is important to take care of it.
Since the causes of TMJ disorder are so varied, the approach to treating it should also be multi dimensional. There is a wide variety of treatment available for the condition, ranging from simple exercises to complicated corrective surgeries. However, if you are looking for a permanent solution to your problem, it is best to adopt a holistic approach. In treating the condition holistically, you strengthen your body and equip it to heal all by itself. Not only can your body recover from the ailment; it can also prevent future occurrences of it. In the case of TMJ disorder therefore, combining relaxation therapies, which would help reduce stress, with jaw exercises, such as controlled TMJ rotation, and working on body postures that affect the head and neck, would provide a wholesome remedy for TMJ disorder. Only through holistic treatment can your body be restored to a state of well being.
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