Most people, even those who don’t wear dentures, are aware of the gum irritation that can occur when they don’t fit well. But poorly fitting dentures can cause a number of other problems, including popping and grinding when moving the jaw, pain the jaw or neck, and even headaches. If you have noticed any of these symptoms since getting your dentures, it may not be a coincidence. Dentures that don’t fit well can cause the jaw to become misaligned, which can lead to jaw disc displacement and disorders of the jaw.
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a hinge-like structure that connects your lower jaw to your skull. These joints consist of tendons, bones, and muscles that give your jaw the ability to move so you can talk and chew. Any kind of misalignment or imbalance in the joint can lead to symptoms of TMJ disorder. A common cause of TMJ misalignment is a bad bite due to missing or damaged teeth, or poorly fitting dentures. Symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary, depending on the nature of the misalignment, and can occur on either or both sides of the jaw. The most common symptoms include:
- Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds with jaw movement
- Pain in the jaw that can occur with or without motion
- Difficulty moving the jaw or limited range of motion
- Neck pain
- Inner ear problems, including ringing, dizziness, and vertigo
Many of these symptoms can be indicative of a number of problems, and TMJ can cause a number of other symptoms, or no symptoms.
One common cause of TMJ disorders occurs when the disc located inside the joint that cushions the bones and prevents them from rubbing against each other becomes displaced. When this occurs, the jaw is unable to open and move properly, which can lead to tension in the surrounding muscles that can spread to other areas. Muscle tension can also affect the nerves, causing numbness and tingling as well as pain.
TMJ and Your Dentures
One thing many cases of TMJ disorders have in common is a suboptimal bite. When teeth are healthy, they fit together well, and the jaw is able to enjoy full range of motion. When teeth are damaged or missing, the jaw becomes misaligned and cannot move as it should. When the motion of any joint is limited, the surrounding muscles become tense as they work against each other. This tension can spread to other muscle groups and place tension on nerves, leading to numbness, tingling, pain, and other problems.
Replacing your missing teeth with dentures is a good way to prevent this from occurring, if the dentures fit properly and create a natural bite. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Many conventional dentists rely on outdated technology to measure bite, so the resulting dentures do not allow your jaw to function in the same way that your natural teeth did when they were healthy. Even with dentures that fit well, problems can still arise if you remove them for long periods of time (such as overnight), if they become damaged, or if you wait to long to have them relined or repaired.
If you have dentures and are experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ disorders, it may be time to have your dentures evaluated. At Westside Denture Centre, we’ll check your dentures for proper fit and repair, reline, or replace them to improve your bite and relieve your pain. Please call on 07 3278 0580 now to arrange an appointment to find out how we can help ease your TMJ pain.