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Why it matters that we recognize TMJ Awareness Month

November is TMJ Awareness Month. TMJ Disorders affect millions of people worldwide. And if you have dry mouth, it could even exacerbate your symptoms.
Why it matters that we recognize TMJ Awareness Month
TMJ Diagram. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

November is TMJ Awareness Month. The TMJ is the Temporomandibular Joint, one of the most used joints in the human body.  It connects the lower jaw bone (the mandible) to the temporal bones of the skull on each side of the head.

Why is it important to recognize TMJ Awareness Month?

TMJ awareness is necessary because millions of people worldwide--and as much as 35 million in the US alone--suffer from TMJ Disorders, which can be expressed as restricted mobility of the jaw joint or pain in the joint and the surrounding muscle tissue. According to the TMJ Association, 85% of people with TMJ Disorders also suffer from other medical conditions, including allergies, chronic fatigue, chronic headache, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and sleep disorders.

What causes TMJ Disorders?

TMJ Disorders can be caused by various issues, including autoimmune diseases, infections, injuries, and arthritis. One pervasive cause of TMJ pain is teeth grinding or clenching due to stress. I had the pleasure of discussing grinding and clenching caused by pandemic-related stress with my local evening news.

WCVB (Boston) news feature with Dr. Camesia Matthews, DDS about teeth grinding and clenching due to pandemic-related stress.

What is the relationship between TMJ and dry mouth?

If you have the autoimmune disease known as Sjögren’s Syndrome, or another condition that leads to dry mouth, TMJ Disorders could exacerbate your symptoms. That’s because jaw misalignment has been shown to reduce saliva production.

How to prevent or manage TMJ pain

The graphic below provides handy tips and tools for preventing or managing TMJ Disorders.

How to prevent or manage TMJ Disorders (Clutch Dental Media)

For more about TMJ, this article provides an excellent overview of the basics.