In the past year, we have learned a lot about the COVID-19 virus and what it does to the body while you have it. Unfortunately for some, there appear to be lingering side effects that continue long after the virus has left the body, including lung damage, and in some cases, a condition called temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is a condition of the jaw, where the joint that connects the jaw bone to the skull becomes misaligned. This can cause pain, stiffness, difficulty chewing, difficulty speaking and breathing, tinnitus, neck pain, back pain, and even migraine headaches. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction can be genetic, but as in the case of COVID-19 patients, it can also be caused by injury.
So, how exactly does COVID-19 cause temporomandibular joint dysfunction (or TMJ dysfunction for short)? Doctors believe it’s due to one of the biggest problems caused by the virus: the struggle to breathe. You see, when a patient has difficulty using their lungs, they compensate by mouth breathing, which can put a strain on the jaw and the rest of the upper body.
For those who have prolonged side effects of COVID-19, this can take its toll on the entire body, including the temporomandibular joint, and cause TMJ dysfunction. Furthermore, pandemic-related activities such as mask-wearing can also contribute to TMJ dysfunction, as some people hold their jaw at uncomfortable angles to compensate for a shifting mask.
Whether you are recovering from COVID-19, or you are simply noticing jaw pain, or clicking and popping in your jaw when you open and close your mouth, you may be concerned that you have TMJ dysfunction. The first step to healing is to be evaluated by Dr. Mingus. Once a proper diagnosis is made, treatment can begin.
Dr. Mingus offers treatment plans for TMJ dysfunction, including facial growth dentistry. This can help better align the jaw, alleviating TMJ dysfunction pain. Your treatment may also include physical therapy, which Dr. Mingus can discuss with you during your evaluation.
To learn more about your TMJ dysfunction options or to schedule an exam, please contact Dr. Mingus at 541-382-6565.