Most think that dental problems primarily effect the elderly population (or those who fail to follow a strict daily oral hygiene regimen). However, there are some dental problems that can develop despite your age and your best efforts at maintaining a healthy smile. In fact, research done by Colgate suggests that teens may be at an increased risk of developing problems with the temporomandibular joint. What is your temporomandibular joint and how can you and your family dentist identify problems with it before they become a major concern? Knowing this may be the key to get you back to enjoying carefree (and pain-free) days.
Feel along the sides of your face right in front of your ears with your index fingers, and you will discover a bony protrusion. This is your temporomandibular joint (TMJ, for short). It connects your jaw bone to your skull and allows you to speak and chew foods. This joint is surrounded by cartilage and features a disk between where your skull and jaw bone meet that absorbs the shock of their impact. When this disk or cartilage is damaged, it can lead to painful grinding in the joint.
Trauma to the jaw is one common cause of TMJD (temporomandibular joint disorders) as well as problems like teeth grinding. How can you tell if you are developing TMJD? The initial signs and symptoms may include:
While at first, these may seem like little more than a daily nuisance, they can quickly progress into more serious problems like chronic headaches and neck pain, earaches, vertigo (dizziness) and a perpetual ringing in your ears. If left untreated, TMJD can eventually lead to serious problems with the alignment of your jaw and chronic facial pain.
You may not be able to avoid developing TMJD, but you can do something about it. Dr. Steadman, family dentist in Richmond, VA, offers a wide array of treatments designed to overcome the daily distraction of TMJ symptoms Contact us today to schedule an appointment where you and you parents can discuss the many options available to you.