Can Wisdom Teeth Cause TMJ?

Pain and jaw movement impairment can adversely affect the quality of your life and well-being. Sometimes the symptoms can be caused by problems with how your teeth fit together or grinding your teeth. However, an impacted wisdom tooth can also lead to concern that you have developed TMJ. Find out below the answer to the question can wisdom teeth cause TMJ and more.

If you have jaw pain or other TMJ symptoms, schedule an appointment at Trident Dental for a comprehensive TMJ evaluation.

What is TMJ?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This complex joint comprises bone, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. It is a hinge-like joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) with the skull. The TMJ is the most used joint in your body. It is capable of many intricate movements that allow you to eat, speak, yawn, swallow, and breathe.

Although TMJ is an anatomical structure, it is also used to refer to a problem with the joint known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Dentists and patients often use TMJ and TMD interchangeably.

TMJ, the dysfunction, is more than a single, easily diagnosed condition. It is a complicated group of conditions that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Treatment can be as simple as rest to complicated joint surgery.

TMJ can include problems with the very important disc that separates the two bones of the joint. Additionally, TMJ can be a disorder of jaw muscles or be used to describe headaches caused by joint problems.

Symptoms of TMJ

Diagnosing TMJ is difficult because some symptoms, such as clicking noises, are considered normal. Although the symptoms can vary widely, the most common ones include the following:

  • Pain in jaw muscles or the joint areas directly in front of each ear.

  • Impaired ability to chew or move the jaw.

  • Headaches.

  • Ring in the ears (tinnitus).

  • Changes in how the teeth fit together.

  • Tooth sensitivity or pain.

  • Clicking or popping joint sounds that are accompanied by pain.

  • Pain that radiates to the neck or shoulders.

  • Earaches.

  • Joint locking open or closed.

The Problem with Wisdom Teeth

Your third molars or wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. This happens during the teen or early twenty years. Some people experience their eruption the same as their other teeth, and they have thirty-two teeth. However, many people need more room in their mouths to accommodate another molar.

It is this lack of adequate space that causes problems with wisdom teeth. The result is teeth that are impacted beneath the gums, jawbone, or a combination of both. Impacted wisdom teeth cause many symptoms, such as:

  • Sore, bleeding gums.

  • Gum infection.

  • Bad breath and taste.

  • Difficulty opening and closing your mouth.

  • Jaw pain.

  • Earaches.

  • Swollen jaw, face, or neck.

  • Dental cavities on the adjacent second molar.

  • Gum disease.

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause TMJ?

Many symptoms associated with impacted wisdom teeth mimic TMJ, especially jaw and ear pain, difficulty opening, and jaw locking open. However, wisdom teeth do not cause temporomandibular disorders. Once impacted wisdom teeth have been removed, the symptoms typically resolve.

TMJ and impacted wisdom teeth symptoms should not be overlooked. Both conditions can cause significant long-term problems if not adequately treated.

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