We all realize the importance of maintaining healthy teeth, but many people are unaware of the fact that one of the risks of missing one or more teeth and not replacing them with dental implants or another restoration as soon as possible is the development of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which causes pain in the jaw, neck, or facial muscles. Other common symptoms include headache, cracking or popping sounds when opening your mouth, and ear pain.
The temporomandibular joints are what enable your jaw to open and close to eat, speak, and perform several other functions. One reason that the risk of TMJ increases with missing teeth is the potential misalignment of the jawbones. However, it is not the only reason people develop this condition. Stress, unconscious grinding of teeth, and hereditary factors are some other common reasons.
If you currently have TMJ and you are considering dental implants, you may wonder how this oral surgery will affect you. The oral surgeons at Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery are happy to let you know that dental implants can help to improve the pain and other symptoms associated with TMJ.
Correcting Your Tooth Alignment with Dental Implants
The longer you have lived with missing teeth, the more likely it is that your jaw is out of alignment. Minor to severe pain is the typical result when your jaw and the surrounding muscles fail to work together. When you are missing teeth, it places added stress on your facial muscles, which in turn causes the improper opening and closing of your jaw.
If other treatments have proven unsuccessful in relieving your TMJ pain, replacing each of your missing teeth with an implant restores proper alignment, making it one potential treatment option for TMJ. The first step in receiving dental implants is to schedule an appointment for a consultation. During this session, your oral surgeon will explain the process to you as well as take X-rays and an impression of your jaw and teeth. He will also answer your questions about treating your TMJ with dental implants.
What to Expect from the Dental Implant Process
If you decide to pursue implants, your oral surgeon will drill a titanium rod into your jawbone that replaces the roots from your missing tooth. This is one of the most important factors to increase jawbone stability and improve TMJ symptoms. The rod eventually fuses with your existing roots in a process called osseointegration. It takes approximately three months for this to occur. You can wear a temporary denture or crown in the meantime to disguise the tooth loss.
After the procedure, you will have a series of follow-up visits with your oral surgeon to check on the status of your healing. Once the healing is complete, it is time to receive your new replacement tooth. At this point, you should notice the greatest pain relief due to misalignment of your jaw.
Could This Be the Right Solution for You?
Our oral surgery practice is the only one of its kind in Georgia that has received certification from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). You can feel confident in knowing that you are working with experts in dental implants. If you have any additional questions, our staff is here to help. Please contact your local office if you would like to learn more.