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TMJ Dysfunction Symptoms Could Be Worse in Smokers

Do you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or suspect you might have this painful, sometimes debilitating condition? Do you experience frequent jaw pain, clicking and popping of the jaw, headaches, bruxism (tooth grinding), neck and backaches, or even tinnitus (ringing of the ears)? If so you could be suffering from temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or as it is more commonly known, TMJ dysfunction or simply TMJ.

For patients with TMJ dysfunction, there is a list of behaviors and foods that we recommend you avoid, such as chewy foods like gum and gummies, or very crunchy foods like chips and pretzels. We also recommend not chewing on things like pens and trying your best to not clench your jaw or grind your teeth. Furthermore, while we recommend not smoking to everyone, a new study has found that smoking can actually worsen TMJ dysfunction symptoms in some patients. Here’s what you need to know.

In the study, which was conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, 606 patients with TMJ dysfunction were followed to see if smoking adversely affected their TMJ dysfunction symptoms.

While promisingly, those with TMJ dysfunction due to injury and genetics did not exhibit much of a difference in symptoms if they smoked, there were some who did: those individuals with arthritis and fibromyalgia. Both fibromyalgia and arthritis are common causes of TMJ dysfunction.

While researchers are not positive about what causes the worsening of symptoms in those with fibromyalgia and arthritis, they hypothesize that it is could be degeneration of the temporomandibular joint, much like smoking is known to degenerate the bones of the spine. It is interesting to note that smokers do not have higher rates of temporomandibular joint dysfunction than non-smokers.

The obvious fix to this issue is quitting smoking, especially if you suffer from TMJ dysfunction and fibromyalgia or arthritis. Patients in the study who did so did notice a reduction in TMJ pain and symptoms.

If you are a smoker, speak to your doctor about beginning a smoking cessation program. If you believe you may have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, contact Dr. Peterson’s office for a consultation today.

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Posted in: TMJ Treatment

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