Dentures and TMJ Pain

tmj and dentures - woman holding head

Dentures and TMJ Pain

Do you experience frequent jaw pain? You could be suffering from a TMJ disorder (TMJD). And if you have missing teeth, your dentures—or lack of them—could be the cause. Let’s take a look at how dentures can affect TMJD. 

What Is a TMJ Disorder?

A TMJ disorder is a condition that affects the function of the temporomandibular joint. You have two of these joints, one on either side of your face, connecting your jaw to your skull. TMJ disorders can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Headaches, earaches, or toothaches
  • A clicking or popping sound when moving your jaw
  • Difficult or painful chewing, biting, or speaking
  • Stiff or locked jaw

Do Dentures Help with TMJ Pain?

A wide range of issues can cause TMJ disorders, like grinding your teeth, facial injuries, and arthritis. Missing teeth can also cause TMJD by creating a misaligned bite that puts extra stress on your jaw.

If you have TMJ pain from having no teeth or a few missing teeth, then getting custom-fit full or partial dentures can help. Wearing dentures prevents your natural teeth from shifting, and makes chewing and speaking more comfortable, so your jaw muscles can relax.

Can Dentures Cause TMJ?

Yes, dentures can cause TMJ pain when they don’t fit properly. That’s because ill-fitting dentures also cause a misaligned bite. Poorly-fitting dentures can even lead to gum disease and tooth decay in your existing teeth by trapping food and bacteria in the space underneath them.

Other issues with dentures that don’t fit right are gum irritation, difficulty chewing, and headaches. It’s important to get high-quality, custom-fitted dentures to prevent your jaw muscles from having to do extra work. If it feels like your dentures don’t fit comfortably, even if you recently received new ones, let your dentist know right away. 

Failing to replace your dentures when they’re worn out can also cause them to fit improperly, so you should plan to get new dentures every 7 to 10 years. To keep your dentures in good condition for as long as possible, make sure to clean them regularly. Dirty dentures can cause gum disease, which may lead to bone loss that also causes ill-fitting dentures. 

Here are a few signs that mean you need new dentures:

  • They feel uncomfortable
  • Difficulty speaking or eating
  • Irritated, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Dentures that shift around in your mouth
  • Mouth infections or sores
  • Frequent headaches
  • They make noises when you chew or speak

How to Relieve TMJ Pain

The best way to relieve TMJ pain is to treat whatever is causing the disorder, such as replacing your ill-fitting dentures or replacing missing teeth. But in the meantime, there are some remedies you can try to find relief. 

1: Keep Your Jaw Relaxed

Limit wide jaw movements as much as possible when chewing, yawning, and speaking. Keeping your mouth in a relaxed position will help your jaw get some rest and reduce your pain. It can also help to gently massage the muscles around your temporomandibular joints to relax your jaw.

2: Use a Hot or Cold Compress

Applying a hot or cold compress to your jaw for up to 20 minutes at a time can reduce swelling and relax your muscles. Wrap an ice pack, ice cubes, or a bag of frozen vegetables in a dry, soft cloth to make a cold compress. To apply heat, you can soak a towel in warm water or use a hot water bottle. 

3: Limit Certain Foods

Some foods can worsen TMJ pain, because they place more stress on your jaw. Limit or avoid crunchy, hard, and sticky foods. You should also refrain from taking large bites of food and from chewing gum. 

Custom Dentures in Sun Lakes, Arizona

If you’re suffering from TMJ pain due to loose dentures or missing teeth, Dr. Saba and Associates can help. We provide high-quality, full and partial dentures that are custom-designed to fit your mouth. Drs. Saba and Romanin have been helping adults in the Sun Lakes community with a wide range of dental issues for over 30 years. Give us a call at 480-895-2111 today to schedule an appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (12/7/2022). Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels