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What is TMJ Disorder, and Does It Affect My Dental Coverage?

By Susan Braden

woman with TMJ needs dental coverage

Temporomandibular joint disorder affects the jaw joint, jaw muscles and nerves on the side of the head to cause pain in the head, face, neck and jaw area. If the bite is disrupted, this can affect the teeth as well.  Many insurance companies will not provide benefits for this "preexisting condition," so some patients are investigating dental coverage through a discount plan instead.

What is TMJ?

At least 10 million Americans are affected by this condition, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. It affects the jaw joint and the muscles around the jaw bone, which control chewing, yawning, talking and other jaw movement. There are several categories of TMJ conditions, according to nonprofit organization TMJ Association, Ltd., but a person can be affected by more than one simultaneously.

  • Internal derangement usually refers to a displaced disc in the jaw joint, though it can also mean injury to the lower jaw or a dislocation.
  • Myofacial pain involves discomfort in the muscles that control the jaw. This the most common condition, and it may sometimes be included in oral health coverage.
  • Arthritis is a condition that refers to inflammatory and degenerative joint problems.

How Does it Impact My Smile?

If the condition affects the bite, it can also damage the teeth. It may wear down the teeth, and it may also inhibit tooth mobility. Your dentist may be able to determine whether your bite should be adjusted for the safety of your teeth. A stable bite is an important part of oral health. If the teeth come together unevenly or with too much force, it could cause fractures in both real and prosthetic teeth.

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If you have been experiencing frequent headaches, jaw pain or discomfort while chewing, you may want to see a dentist to find out if you are suffering from this disorder. It may not be an emergency, but if left untreated, it could get incredibly painful, and the teeth could be permanently damaged or fractured. You may want to research for quality dental coverage and visit a dentist soon to find out how to treat the problem safely and effectively.

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