What Causes TMJ?

Posted on: November 16, 2017

TMJTemporomandibular joint disease, known as TMJ, is due to a number of different factors. With a variety of different causes and symptoms of TMJ, it is important to understand what it is and if you need any form of treatment. While each patient’s case is unique, there are some overarching common threads worth reviewing.

Why TMJ Occurs

TMJ can occur for a wide variety of reasons. In some patients, TMJ develops as a result of trauma. In other instances, regular wear and tear can cause an onset of TMJ. The aging process and the patient’s unique oral habits can also trigger TMJ. By visiting a TMJ dentist. patients can ensure that they receive the necessary treatment to continue enjoying life without pain.

Grinding and Clenching

The trauma of TMJ occurs internally in the form of microtrauma. Consider bruxism, or the grinding of the teeth and jaw tightening. By applying regular pressure along the temporomandibular joint, patients will alter the alignment of the teeth. The excessive muscle use will inflame the membranes around the joint as a result.

Plenty of people clench and/or grind their teeth without realizing it. Some people grind their teeth at night while asleep.  Other people grind their teeth during the day and have no idea it is actually happening. Those who complain of temporomandibular joint pain commonly grind and/or clench their teeth. This pain extends across the face and can even include muscles necessary for the chewing process.

While teeth grinding tends to occur at night during sleep, clenching usually occurs when the individual is awake. The patient bites onto things, whether it is gum, fingernails, a pen cap or the side of a pencil. The regular pressure along the joints leads to considerable pain. Pain and stress can easily contribute to issues with the jaw that aggravate or hasten the onset of TMJ.

Other Causes for TMJ Pain

It is also possible for previous dental work to cause TMJ pain or soreness. Dental work near a joint that is stretched open for an excessive amount of time can prove troublesome. The application of heat and massage following any type of dental procedure will help mitigate TMJ pain.

Osteoarthritis can Cause TMJ

Like every other joint, the jaw is susceptible to arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to inflammation along the joints and contribute to TMJ. The eventual progression can lead to the erosion of bone, destruction of cartilage and even the deformity of joints. Arthritic changes can occur due to the break down of the joint and the wear of the aging process. Degenerative joint disease is a gradual process in which cartilage is lost and new bone forms along the joint surface.

Additional Causes of TMJ

There are plenty of additional TMJ causes. Everything from an injury to the jaw or teeth to improper jaw alignment, poor posture, arthritis, weak posture and the chewing of gum can lead to TMJ. While each of these forces may not be the sole cause for the onset of TMJ, there is the potential for them to contribute.

Call Us Today to Schedule an Appointment

If you need assistance with your TMJ, are suspicious you might have TMJ or simply need help with your teeth and gums, contact us. Schedule an appointment, let our oral health professionals examine your mouth and help you enjoy the level of oral health you deserve.


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