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What other factors contribute to TMJ Disorders?
Bruxism is the abnormal grinding of the teeth. If grinding continues the TMJ condition will get worse. Bruxism usually occurs during sleep. That is why so many people do not realize that they are bruxers. One indication that a person is a bruxer is sore jaw muscles or headache when waking in the morning. Some researchers feel that the constant grinding of the teeth causing pressure on the TMJs may injure the ligaments, thus allowing for the disc to dislocate. At the very least, bruxism produces muscle pain, sensitive and worn teeth.
Malocclusion is simply a bad bite. Malocclusion may be produced by poor development of the jaws or removal of teeth without replacement, a high dental filling, a poor fitting denture or partial denture, or a displaced TMJ disc.
Some feel that orthodontic treatment, or braces, might be a cause of TMJ. By moving teeth with orthodontic appliances, malocclusion is produced during treatment. Also, people undergoing orthodontics do report sensitive teeth, pain in the jaw muscles and even bruxism. However, as with malocclusion and bruxism, there has been no scientific controlled study to prove that orthodontic treatment produces a TMJ problem.
People who appear to be double-jointed actually suffer from a problem termed Aligament laxity. If this occurs, then the joint appears to be double or, loose. This definitely can happen to the TMJ's. Ligament laxity is a fairly common problem in active young women who suffer with TMJ (and injuries to other joints). Laxity of ligaments can be the result of trauma or over stretching the join.
Stress has many effects on our bodies: some good and some bad. Stress, is both physical and psychological. Physiological changes can produce muscle tightness and pain and if you are subjected to chronic stress, these physical changes may produce harmful effects. For example, people subjected to chronic stress develop ulcers, diarrhea, tension headaches, muscle tightness and other physical symptoms. Stress is just like throwing gasoline on an existing fire: the fire is a TMJ problem and the gasoline is stress. The gasoline causes the fire to flair up and burn widely for a time, but the gas did not produce the fire (or, TMJ), it just made it worse. This is how it appears that stress acts in conjunction with a TMJ problem. Muscles tighten, teeth clench, abnormal pressure is forced against the TMJ disc, and if the ligaments are weak or if the patient is one that has ligament laxity, then the disc may dislocate.
Various diseases can cause or aggravate TMJ problems. Immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus can produce inflammation in the TMJ. In addition, viral infections such as mononucleosis, mumps and measles can cause damage to the surfaces of the TMJ, which ultimately can lead to an internal derangement.
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