How GERD could mean that you have TMJ Disorder

gerd means tmjPoway and Rancho Bernardo, CA

The human body is full of complex systems that serve a specific function and are designed to work with each other. The relation to oral health and the rest of the body is discussed by dental professionals often to help inform and urge people to take care of their oral health. Most people are unaware of the impact poor oral health can have on their brain, heart, and other critical systems.

However, sometimes when the body has problems, it can show up in other areas such as the mouth. A new study uncovered how gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may increase the risk of TMJ or TMD, temporomandibular joint disorders. According to the study, the presence of GERD can almost triple the likelihood that TMJ disorder develops, and that can have a devastating impact on the teeth.

Linking GERD to TMJ

As part of a study conducted in China, doctors and researchers examined 1,522 adult patients who were seen for chronic TMJ disorder. Then, they matched others in gender, age, and overall health who did not suffer from the disorder. From July 2017 to April 2018, Chinese patients from the age of 18 to 70 were gathered for the study. To maintain the integrity of the study, doctors who were not aware of the purpose of the study were asked to diagnose GERD in patients that harbored the symptoms. In addition, all patients were required to answer questionnaires about their sleep patterns and other psychological factors.

The results of the study showed that those diagnosed with GERD were 2.74 times more likely to have TMJ than those who did not have an acid reflux disease. To determine the connection, researchers believe that anxiety and poor sleep habits may be the two main conditions causing the problem. The findings make sense based on what is known about anxiety and sleep problems causing bruxism, or teeth clenching and grinding while sleeping. Bruxism causes significant stress to your teeth, jaw joint, and jaw muscles, potentially creating chronic pain and dysfunction, as well as worn or severely damaged teeth.

A Bad Combination for Your Teeth

Although these are the results from one study, if the relationship between these conditions continues to show promise as a potential connection, it could be a bad combination for your teeth. As GERD and TMJ disorder present dangerous and damaging health issues, the combination of both conditions exasperates the impact.

GERD can allow higher levels of acids in the mouth that will attack the tooth enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to cracking, breaking, or eroding. The teeth in the back of the mouth are at higher risk for damage from GERD and suffer the most stress from bruxism. These two conditions, if left untreated, could cause catastrophic damage to your oral health.

Early Diagnosis and Treatment Could Save Your Teeth

These findings further emphasize the importance of routine dental checkups. Your dentist could discover the damaging effects of acid reflux disease, and a dentist with neuromuscular training, such as Dr. Cook, provides screenings for TMJ disorder. If you already suffer from acid reflux, set up an appointment for this screening as soon as possible. Dr. Cook will examine the movement of your jaw and look for signs of abnormal tooth wear.

The best way to know if you have either of these two health conditions is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Cook, a TMJ specialist in Poway, by calling (858) 673-0141 or contact Smiles by Dr. Cook today. We welcome patients of Poway and Rancho Bernardo, California.

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