Mythbusters About TMJ Disorders

Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee

Most people have heard about TMJ disorders to some extent – usually with a lot of misinformation. At Center For Advanced Dentistry, we want to help our patients visit us for TMJ treatment to finally achieve relief from painful TMJ symptoms. With so many misconceptions about TMJ floating around, we understand why so many people may feel hesitant to visit their Nashville dentist for TMJ treatment when the internet says that treatment either involves surgery or all they need to do is stop chewing gum. Learn the truth about TMJ disorders before you put off professional treatment longer.

Senior man suffering from TMJ jaw pain

You Can Get TMJ From Chewing Too Much

Although excessive chewing can contribute to your TMJ pain, it is not the cause of TMJ disorders. The cause of TMJ disorders is an imbalance or dysfunction of the jaw joint. The imbalance or dysfunction causes the joint to pop in and out of place and causes strain on the surrounding muscle and tissue. Eating a soft food diet might help alleviate some of your painful symptoms, but it won’t cure TMJ.

Chewing Gum Causes TMJ

Another common misconception is that chewing gum causes TMJ disorders. This is also not true. Just like excessive chewing, chewing gum can irritate your TMJ disorder and cause your symptoms to show up. Chewing gum with a TMJ disorder is like running a marathon on a pulled hamstring. It will only make it worse.

It Only Affects Your Jaw

TMJ isn’t limited to just affecting your jaw – it can affect your entire face, ears, neck, and even your back. This is because when you have a TMJ disorder, it causes the muscles located next to your jaw joint to become strained. These muscles run near your ears, up and down your face, around the back of your head, down your neck, and into your upper back. You might experience pain in your ears, jaw, face, neck, and back as a result. This pain can also cause frequent headaches and migraines.

Eating Hard Food Causes TMJ

This is another TMJ myth related to the excessive chewing ones. It’s not the hard foods that cause your TMJ disorder, it’s chewing on hard food that irritates it even more which makes symptoms more prevalent.

TMJ Disorder is Rare

TMD is quite the opposite actually. An estimated 10 million Americans are affected by TMJ disorders and 12% of the world population suffers from it.

Only Women Get TMD

Although anyone can get TMD, it is more common in women. Nearly 90% of cases are from women.

TMJ is Harmless

Although TMD is not a life-threatening condition, it is not harmless. Without treatment, severe symptoms can have a major effect on your quality of life from daily headaches and migraines to severe jaw pain. TMD can also harm your teeth and cause severe damage to your jaw joint that might require surgery to fix.

TMJ Disorder is Permanent

TMD is not a permanent condition in your life. When you work with a TMJ dentist like Dr. White, he will help you find a treatment option that addresses the specific cause of your TMJ disorder. For instance, if you have a misaligned bite that’s causing your TMJ disorder, your treatment might involve an orthodontic treatment. Some patients might just require an oral splint to realign their jaw joints into a comfortable position. Just know that with the right treatment plan, your TMJ disorder is not permanent.

Popping and Clicking Is the Main Symptom

The symptoms of TMJ vary person by person. One person might only experience constant migraines and headaches while another person only experiences clicking and popping while someone else experiences a sore jaw. Visiting a TMJ dentist in Nashville will give you an accurate diagnosis using advanced dental technology such as the BioPak diagnostic suite. This technology measures several different aspects of your jaw health including your jaw motion, sounds, and muscle activity. Dr. White uses these tools to diagnose your condition and plan the best treatment for your individual case.

The Pain Will Go Away If You Rest Enough

If you stick to a strict soft food diet and continuously ice your jaw, your pain will likely subside. But once you resume the activities that irritated your TMJ disorder, the pain will just come back. The only way to find relief for life is with treatment.

It’s Cured If The Popping Stops

The popping noise that occurs with TMD is the sound of the cushioning disc inside your jaw joint slipping in and out of place. If the noise stops, it indicates that the disc isn’t slipping back into place anymore which means the damage to the jaw joint is severe and can cause a locked jaw.

It Requires Surgery For Treatment

In some cases, like when the jaw joint damage is severe, surgery is a possible treatment, but it’s not the only treatment. There are lots of non-invasive options available. Dr. White will create a custom TMJ treatment plan made specifically for your case. His ultimate goal is to help your jaw rest in a comfortable position that helps your muscles relax which will then benefit the surrounding nerves, joints, and structures. These results are usually achieved from wearing a custom orthodontic appliance. He may also recommend restorative dentistry following the use of the orthodontic appliance to restore your teeth’s tooth structure.

If you’re looking to find relief from a TMJ disorder, please contact our Nashville TMJ dentist at (615) 383-6787 to schedule an appointment.