Can TMJ lead to Tooth Loss?


TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint, which are the two joints connecting your jaw to your skull. The trigeminal nerve controls your jaw’s function and processes the sensations of your head and face. This nerve becomes aggravated in someone who develops TMJ problems, causing headaches, soreness in the face, and difficulty moving the jaw, among other complications.

TMJ disorders have many causes, and it is often difficult to discern which is the proper one in a given case. Patients with TMJ disorders can end up breaking and wearing down their teeth, potentially resulting in tooth loss. However, more commonly it’s the other way around.

Tooth Loss and TMJ Dysfunction


If you have missing teeth, your risk of developing a TMJ disorder increases. A misaligned bite is one of the most common causes of broken teeth and damaged crowns. It is better to fix the bite problem thought TMJ treatment instead of continually repairing the teeth. Once the bite is properly realigned, we can begin to restore the teeth.

After losing just one tooth, you’ll likely end up having to alter the way you perform ordinary jaw functions. Based on your level of self-consciousness, you may end up changing how you chew and speak. Readjusting in this way can unsettle your TMJs, and over time this can cause other symptoms related to TMJ dysfunctions.

People with lost teeth, especially molars, observe that their bite will shift because one side of their mouth must compensate for the inability to chew on the other side. This brings stiffness and pain to the jaw and can lead to TMJ disorder later on.

Over time, the teeth adjacent to the socket left by the lost tooth will reposition, attempting to fill the gap. This shifting will cause further gaps to form between the other teeth, and the teeth can twist or tilt as they move. This condition will further increase your risk for a TMJ complication and hinder your eating abilities.

Bone Loss


The strength of your bones depends on stimulation. The jaw bone supporting your teeth needs contact from the tooth roots to remain resilient.

If you begin to lose teeth, your jaw bone no longer receives stress and vibrations and will begin to atrophy. Loss of bone density can occur rapidly. You can expect to lose up to a fourth of the bone’s width within the first year of a tooth loss. After a few years, the bone height can shrink by as much as 4 millimeters.

Bone loss will lead to problems with eating, speaking, aesthetics and pain. The problem will only get worse if you keep losing teeth, and the diminishing bone density can cause fracturing. If left untreated, tooth loss can change the look of your facial structure, giving you the appearance of accelerated aging.

Solutions for Missing Teeth


Several options are available to replace lost teeth, including prosthetic replacement. Dental bridges are prosthetics secured by dental crowns on nearby teeth and have the appearance of your other teeth. They are strong enough to endure biting and chewing. Dental implants are inserted into the jaw bone as replacements for tooth roots. Implants can stand alone or maintain a bridge.

By restoring missing teeth, we can realign the jaw and minimize the problems brought on by a TMJ dysfunction.

For more information, please contact our office at (614) 427-0449.

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