Your Teeth and TMJ

If you experience chronic pain in your jaw and teeth, you may have TMJ disorder. This is a condition that affects your jaw joints and muscles. You can identify this issue if you have jaw pain or clicking or popping when you open or close your mouth. Furthermore, you may notice headaches or difficulty chewing. Without treatment, these issues can worsen and create other dental problems. It can also have effects on your teeth and enamel. 

Your Teeth and TMJ

The Connection Between Your Teeth and TMJ

When you have TMJ disorder, the alignment of your jaw may be affected. This misalignment can lead to several issues that impact your teeth:

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Many people with TMJ disorder also grind their teeth, especially at night while they sleep. This constant grinding puts excessive pressure on the teeth. Over time. It can wear down the enamel. Enamel is the protective outer layer of the teeth that is necessary for protecting your teeth. When it wears away, it can lead to tooth sensitivity, decay, and even fractures.

Uneven Tooth Wear

Misalignment of the jaw can cause the teeth to come together improperly when you bite or chew. This can lead to uneven wear on the surfaces of the teeth. Some areas can have more pressure than others. Over time, this uneven wear can weaken the enamel and lead to dental issues.

Increased Risk of Tooth Damage

As the enamel wears down due to grinding or uneven wear, the teeth become more vulnerable to damage. This can include chipping, cracking, or fractures, especially in areas where the enamel is weak.

Effects on Enamel

Enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of the teeth that helps shield them from decay, sensitivity, and damage. When TMJ disorder affects the teeth, it can have several specific effects on the enamel:

Erosion: The constant pressure and grinding associated with TMJ disorder can cause enamel erosion. This is when the enamel wears away gradually. It exposes the softer, more sensitive layers of the tooth beneath. Erosion can lead to increased tooth sensitivity and a higher risk of decay.

Sensitivity: As the enamel wears down, the underlying dentin layer of the tooth becomes more exposed. Dentin is more porous and sensitive to temperature changes and acidic substances. This can increase tooth sensitivity, especially to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages.

Decay: Weakened enamel is more susceptible to decay-causing bacteria. When enamel is eroded or damaged due to TMJ-related grinding or misalignment, it creates openings and crevices where bacteria can thrive. This can lead to cavities and tooth decay if not properly addressed.

Managing TMJ to Protect Teeth and Enamel

If you have TMJ disorder, there are steps you can take to minimize its effects on your teeth and enamel.

Custom Mouthguards: Your dentist may recommend a custom-fitted mouthguard to wear at night to protect your teeth from grinding.

Regular Dental Check-ups: Routine dental visits are essential for monitoring the health of your teeth and catching any issues early. Your dentist can also provide treatments to strengthen enamel and prevent decay.