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When it comes to temporomandibular joint disorder (or TMJ), most patients believe this only affects their oral health. But the sad truth is it can actually impact your overall health as well.

With TMJ, you would expect pain and sore muscles in the jaw when you talk, chew and swallow, all of which can lead to headaches, teeth grinding and tooth sensitivity. What you might not realize is that TMJ can also leave you with pain in other areas of your body such as your head, neck, back and shoulders.

TMJ disorder is a condition that affects the muscles, ligaments, discs and bones that allow the jaw to open, rotate, and glide. This impacts not only the joints in your jaw but also the muscles and nerves in your face. TMJ can arise from a misaligned bite pattern (how the teeth fit together when you bite down, talk or chew), trauma or injury to the jaw, and even arthritis.

How TMJ affects the body

The problem is, when you have TMJ or airway issues, your posture often suffers and that, in turn, can affect the rest of your body. The skeletal system is all connected, and when one area is off center it can throw other areas out of alignment, especially in this case, if the misalignment is in your neck and shoulder areas. Consequently, TMJ/TMD has been correlated in people who have other problems with their health, such as:

– Chronic fatigue syndrome: extreme, debilitating fatigue that can’t be explained by a particular medical condition.
– Endometriosis: where pieces of endometrial tissue (which under normal conditions form in the lining of the uterus) end up outside of the uterus.
– Fibromyalgia: a disorder where you have musculoskeletal pain along with sleep, fatigue, memory and mood problems.
– Interstitial cystitis: an autoimmune condition.
– Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): a chronic gastrointestinal disorder.

Additionally, TMJ can lead to lower back pain, sleep disorders that lead to sleep deprivation, trouble hearing, problems with vision and dizziness. As you can see, ignoring TMJ symptoms can lead to poor health in the long term. So how do you know if you have a TMJ disorder?

Symptoms to watch out for

TMJ Symptoms may manifest as pain around your ears along with headaches, neck aches, jaw pain, soreness, and problems opening and closing your mouth. You might even notice unusual sounds when you open and close your jaw, like clicking or popping noises. Be aware that if you are a woman, you are in a higher risk category for TMJ, especially if you are in your childbearing years.

If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ and are looking for relief, we invite you to contact our experienced team of TMJ specialists and come in for an evaluation. Not only have we successfully helped many patients manage their TMJ/TMD, we look forward to helping you experience better health and effective treatment for your symptoms. Just give us a call today!