Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) are complicated and scientific knowledge on the sources of TMD is still in its relatively early stages of discovery. Nevertheless, there are many theories out there that may help explain some of the potential causes and reasons for the development of TMD in a patient.
Arthritis — It’s an unfortunate fact of life that as we get older our joints experience increased wear and tear, which causes them to weaken and frequently causes disability. As a result, arthritis forms. Arthritis that specifically affects the temporomandibular joint is hypothesized as a potential cause of the dysfunction that occurs in TMD. Due to the deterioration of the joint from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, the typical symptoms of TMD seem to fall in line with the effects that are associated with arthritis.
Dislocation of Disk/Damage to Joint — Dislocation and damage can happen with little to no provocation or as a result of strenuous physical activity, such as an accident or an aggressive contact sport. If dislocation or damage to the temporomandibular joint occurs, it could potentially cause pain, discomfort or clicking noises symptomatic of TMD.
Grinding or Clenching of Teeth — Grinding and clenching of teeth is a condition that can be problematic for the health of your teeth and jaw. In addition to wearing away at your teeth, grinding or clenching can put added pressure on your jaw, potentially affecting the temporomandibular joint, and causing some of the symptoms of TMD. Often times clenching and grinding are highly associated with excessive levels of stress and anxiety, which also causes tightening of the jaw and facial muscles which, in turn, can affect the TMJ.
High Levels of Estrogen — Though not confirmed, many scientists believe high levels of estrogen may be a contributing factor to the cause of TMD. Women on the whole have a higher rate of affliction than men, and post-menopausal women in at least one study were more likely to develop the disorder if given hormone replacement therapy.
While many cases of TMD don’t have pin-point-able causes, that doesn’t mean the disorder is untreatable. On the contrary, Austin Oral Surgery’s team of surgeons can evaluate those suffering from TMD-related symptoms and, if found to be a surgical candidate, will take a personalized approach to determine the best treatment plan. If you’re interested in learning more about TMD or would like to schedule an appointment, contact us today.