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Direct From The Dentist: Can Missing Teeth Cause TMJ?

Direct From The Dentist Can Missing Teeth Cause TMJ

Having even one missing tooth can cause a number of issues, ranging from shifting among your remaining teeth and loss of bone density. To help prevent these issues, your local Billings, MT dentist will recommend some form of dental replacement to avoid the negative impact of missing teeth.

These effects of missing teeth have been well-documented; however, one potential side-effect of missing teeth that is still being debated is if missing teeth can cause temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

The joint that connects your jaw to your skull is called the temporomandibular joint. When working properly, the joint will allow you to open and close your mouth, as well as move from side-to-side, smoothly.

For those who have TMJ, their jaw will often pop and can be painful when moving the jaw for anything. Hearing the joint grind, click, as well as experiencing tinnitus is another common sign that you have TMJ.

Connection Between TMJ And Dental Occlusion

As your temporomandibular joint is the connection between your jaw and skull, it makes sense that your dental health can trigger TMJ. One of the main indicators of TMJ is if you have dental occlusion issues.

A dental occlusion problem can be caused by a number of things, from a change in your bite due to worn-down teeth to having naturally crooked teeth. As you bite down unevenly due to a dental occlusion problem, greater stress is put on your temporomandibular joint, which can lead to TMJ.

According to research, missing teeth can also be a trigger for TMJ. In the study, missing posterior teeth (back teeth, like molars) were the most significant indicators that missing teeth caused TMJ.

If you think about it, the connection makes sense. Your back teeth do the majority of the work when it comes to breaking down food. Yet, if you are missing one or more of your back teeth, you likely have to put more bite pressure on your remaining teeth, causing more significant stress for your temporomandibular joint.

Ways To Correct TMJ

Luckily, you don’t have to just accept TMJ or your missing teeth. There are a number of effective solutions for TMJ, such as:

  • Teeth replacements – If you are missing teeth, dental implants and dental bridges are effective options. If you are only missing one or two teeth, dental implants are recommended, as they are incredibly stable and strong replacements, if expensive. However, if you are missing multiple teeth, dental bridges can help repair your bite and alleviate your TMJ.
  • Nightguard – Many people with TMJ will grind or clench their jaws as they sleep. To protect your teeth from these things, a nightguard can be highly effective. Also, you can protect your new dental implants or fixed dental bridge.
  • Dental crowns – Should your teeth have become worn down, the change in your bite can also trigger TMJ. Having dental crowns placed over worn-down teeth can help protect your natural teeth and alleviate your TMJ.
  • Straighten teeth – Having crooked teeth can also lead to TMJ, as the jaw has to work harder to make up for the misaligned bite. Using Invisalign or other oral appliances to straighten your teeth can help correct your TMJ.

Stress can also be a factor when it comes to TMJ. So, as you get your dental occlusion issues corrected, be sure to try out different relaxation techniques to help you reduce your stress levels.

Find Help For Your TMJ In Billings, MT

If you are struggling with TMJ, have missing teeth, or need other dental services we offer, please contact us today to set up your appointment.

As your local Billings, MT dentist, Dr. Taylor can provide you with a wide variety of dental services to help resolve your dental occlusion and TMJ. We look forward to helping you reach the best dental health possible!

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