A missing tooth can be irritating – it can often result in pain, food getting lodged between the adjacent teeth, and difficulty cleaning the teeth. What you might not know, however, is that in addition, a missing tooth can mean more longer term consequences. Though you may be able to handle the immediate effects of losing a tooth, it is important to have it replaced as it can cause longer term problems.
In addition to leading to decay, missing teeth can cause shifting of adjacent teeth and can change your bite. A change in your bite can result in a jaw joint disorder known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
What is TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) disorder?
TMJ can affect patients of all ages and is typically caused by misalignment of the jaw. Symptoms include pain in the jaw, tenderness in facial muscles, and neck pain. Other symptoms may include frequent headaches, ear pain, and popping or cracking sounds when chewing or speaking.
Often TMJ symptoms appear after a permanent tooth is lost and surrounding teeth shift to fill the space created by the absent tooth, causing the natural bite to become misaligned.
There are varieties of options available to treat TMJ with implants gaining in popularity. Traditionally a bridge or partial denture is used to replace gaps and spaces. These two options require more daily care and regular maintenance from your dentist. An implant is a permanent option that fits in with your regular dental routine easily.
Can a dental implant ease my TMJ symptoms?
Correcting the alignment of your jaw may be the solution needed to erase the TMJ signs you are experiencing. If your jaw and surrounding muscles are not working together properly the result can be minor to extreme pain. The added stress to your facial muscles from lost teeth can cause your jaw to open and close incorrectly causing muscle and jaw pain. Replacing those knocked out teeth with tooth implants helps correct your bite. Re-aligning your bite by replacing teeth and any necessary orthodontics may ease your TMJ discomfort.
With dental implants, a metal root is inserted into the jawbone. This metal root, called an implant, is what holds the artificial tooth. The healing time after an artificial root is placed varies with each patient, averaging a few weeks to a few months. This permanent procedure is becoming a popular method of replacing that knocked out tooth, with many patients preferring the implant to a traditional bridge.
Find out if a dental implant is right for you
Smile restoration using a dental implant can boost your confidence as well as improve your health, as a full set of teeth allows you to eat broader range of foods. Easing your TMJ pain with an implant allows you to eat your favorite foods again free from pain.
Begin your smile rejuvenation today, book a complimentary consultation with Dr. Westman to see if a dental implant could work for you. We look forward to answering your questions on TMJ symptoms and the TMJ treatment options available for your individual needs.