How Does TMJ Disorder Make You Feel?

Apr 2nd, 2013 | By | Category: Patient Education, TMJ Treatment

fresno_tmj_disorderIf you suffer from TMJ disorder, or TMD, then you probably sneer at the question, “How does it feel?” The discomfort associated with the jaw disorder can emanate throughout your craniofacial structures, and is often severe enough to be considered debilitating. The problem with treating TMD, however, is that its wide range of symptoms can often make diagnosis difficult, and patients may endure their agony for years before discovering that it originates with a dental problem. According to some studies, physical discomfort like chronic migraines, earaches, and facial pain/soreness, may not be the only detrimental effects that TMJ disorder can cause; experts believe the chronic pain may also negatively affect your emotional well being and contribute to major depressive disorder. With extensive experience treating all aspects of your dental health, Fresno dentists, Drs. Alex and Claudia Denes, can help you find relief from chronic TMJ-related aches and pains, and explore the research that suggests doing so can improve your emotional health.

Reexamining TMJ Disorder

If you’ve dealt with seemingly causeless chronic pain before, then you probably understand how the mixture of long-lasting discomfort and confusion about its cause can take a toll on your level of happiness. Nevertheless, there is a scientific explanation for TMJ disorder’s suspected emotional influence.

TMJ disorder describes a dysfunction with your jaw’s joints (temporomandibular joints, or TMJs), which allow your mouth to move and operate. When these joints are damaged or misaligned by improper jaw development, malocclusion (crooked bite), trauma, or for any other reason, your jaw’s muscles have to work extra hard to keep your mouth straight while you eat and speak. The strain on your jaw’s components can irritate and/or damage the trigeminal nerve that innervates your jaw and much of your craniofacial structure, leading a wide and diverse range of symptoms.

A Link Between Chronic TMD and Depression

Your trigeminal nerve accounts for a large majority of the sensory input that your nervous system feeds to your brain, and has been a major subject of study for experts seeking to replace pharmacotherapy (the use of medications) by modulating brain activity. Stimulation of the nerve has shown promise for treating patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, and the nerve also branches into structures that have been implicated in depression. Researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, examined the effects of external trigeminal nerve stimulation on a group of volunteers with persistent TMJ disorder symptoms that did not respond to medication. Over the course of eight weeks, the patients underwent nightly nerve stimulation, and by the end of the trial, researchers observed significant improvement in both TMJ disorder symptoms and depression rating scores.

Find Relief from TMJ Disorder with Your Fresno Dentists

While further, more extensive trials are needed to delineate effectiveness and tolerability of nerve stimulation, the truth remains that chronic TMJ disorder can greatly diminish your quality of life. If you suffer from seemingly-unexplainable chronic aches and pains and believe you may have TMJ disorder, then contact Drs. Alex and Claudia Denes by calling Fresno Dental Studio at (559) 297-1800. Located in the 93720 area, we proudly serve patients from Fresno, Clovis, Mendota, Orange Cove, Reedley, Selma, and the surrounding areas.

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