Sensitive and sore teeth are often symptoms of a disorder known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). You will often hear people speak about their TMJ problems. The letters TMJ actually refer to the temporomandibular joint, or the jaw joint. The TMJ is a small joint in the front of each ear that attaches the lower jaw to the skull and is the most complex joint in the entire human body. The area of the face where the temporomandibular joint is located is a complex network of bones including the muscles, nerves and teeth. This complex system affects many areas of the body from the head to the fingertips.
TMD/TMJ are terms used to describe a group of symptoms including:
· Migraine-like headaches
· Facial pain
· Neck pain
· Jaw pain
· Shoulder pain
· Limited jaw movement
· Locking of the jaw
· Clicking and popping noises of the jaw
· Numbness of fingers and arms
· Sore and sensitive teeth
Grinding of the teeth, snoring, frequent ear infections and restricted airway are other problems often associated with TMD.
A highly trained neuromuscular dentist can relieve your symptoms of TMD including sore teeth by evaluating your bite and correcting a misaligned bite. In most cases, TMD is caused by malocclusion (misaligned bite). When you suffer from malocclusion, your upper and lower teeth do not close together in the correct way; this includes overbites and under bites. When your teeth are not aligned properly, they cannot provide the support the muscles in the face require for chewing and swallowing. These muscles are then forced into a strained position, which results in pain and limited jaw movement.
Neuromuscular dentists measure the most relaxed position of your jaw to determine the goal for normal positioning. Then the dentist works to realign your bite and restore the teeth and thus the jaw to their optimal position. Once your bite is aligned properly, your symptoms, including sore teeth, should disappear.
What Causes TMD?
The causes of TMD are still not clear, but neuromuscular dentists believe that TMD symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of the jaw or with the parts of the joint itself. Possible causes include:
· Grinding/clenching your teeth, which puts a great deal of pressure on the TMJ
· Dislocation of the disc between the ball and socket
· Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
· Stress, which causes you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
Treatments for TMD range from very conservative to more aggressive, including injections and surgery. Your neuromuscular dentist will discuss the many treatment options available to you once your case is evaluated and assessed thoroughly.