TMJ causes are numerous and sometimes difficult to pinpoint. TMJ causes are numerous and sometimes difficult to pinpoint. Temporomandibular disorders occur for a variety of reasons. It is usually considered that the causes can be multifaceted with a variety of stressors over time and that lead to a mechanical breakdown of the muscles, ligaments and joint apparatus.
Because the jaw and temporomandibular joints are involved in so many continual functions such as chewing, talking in the vast number of life’s expressions involving jaw movement it is common for the temporomandibular joints and muscles of mastication to develop one or more of the temporomandibular disorders. The normal usage of the jaw in combination with the following situations can lead to the various temporomandibular disorders:
- Oral habits (ice chewing, pencil biting, pen biting, excessive gum chewing)
- Malocclusion (bite disorders such as overbite, under bite, cross bite)
- Abnormal anatomy of the temporomandibular joints
- Musical instruments
- Sleep posture
- Systemic disease (rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, connective tissue diseases)
Some TMJ disorders develop as a direct result of obvious trauma. Airbag deployment during a motor vehicle accident, a sports injury, punch, fall or other accident may traumatize the delicate structures of the temporomandibular joints resulting in joint inflammation, muscle pain and even disc dysfunction (clicking). In those instances a patient may be able to specifically pinpoint a time, date and event that occurred triggering the onset of TMJ symptoms.
The majority of patients, however, may not be able to specifically identify a cause or time when symptoms developed. Many patients will remember that clicking sounds or jaw and facial pain began initially as mild and intermittent. With passing time the frequency and severity of jaw and facial pain, headaches and clicking sounds and other symptoms may escalate.
This is not different than any of the other joins in the body including the knee and hip joint which undergo stress during normal usage and eventually can break down and have muscular, ligamentous, discal and articular degenerative changes. We see how often people require arthroscopic cleaning out of the knee or even knee and hip replacement surgeries.
Research shows that automobile accidents involving acceleration/deceleration forces contribute to an increased incidence of TMD symptoms when compared to control group one year after the accident.