Temporomandibular joint disorder, which is more commonly known as TMJ, can make it difficult to get dental treatment due to the pain in the jaw and problems with being able to open your mouth wide enough for dental treatment. However, for people with TMJ it's extremely important that they find the underlying cause of their TMJ before getting dental treatment.
The reason for this is because there is a chance that they have a medical condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), which requires special attention in any dental and medical office setting. Interestingly enough, gum disease is common in people with EDS. Here's what you need to know about TMJ and EDS.
TMJ – Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
People who have TMJ often complain about pain and tenderness in their jaw joint. They may have popping and/or clicking in the joint when they eat or open and close their mouth, like when they yawn or open their mouths wide enough for dental work. Sometimes, they may not be able to close their mouths easily following a dental procedure.
EDS – Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
TMJ can be caused by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a connective tissue disorder that can affect the joints, muscles, ligaments, skin, bones, blood vessels and organs. People with EDS do not produce enough collagen. While you may never have heard of EDS before, it affects 1 in 5,000 people. One of the key symptoms of EDS is hypermobility of joints, which is often recognized as being double-jointed or having loose joints.
Since EDS is a connective tissue disorder, other recognizable symptoms include elasticity of the skin and mucosa (such as gum tissue), as well as easy bruising. Since the connective tissue throughout the body is weak, it can cause the skin and mucosa to rip easily. And without an adequate production of collagen, healing can take longer.
Another problem that is common with EDS is gum disease, due to the mobility of the teeth in the jaw because of the lack of adequate connective tissue in the gums to hold the teeth in place. This causes bacteria and debris to get in between the gum and teeth, which can lead to infection and gum disease.
Genetics Testing & Medical Treatment for EDS
EDS is a hereditary disease. Therefore, you can get genetics testing done to see if you have it. This can be ordered through your primary care physician. And since it is hereditary, you should have your children tested for it as well if you are a parent. If the results come back positive for EDS, you can expect to be referred to a rheumatologist.
Of course, if you do believe you might have EDS, there's little doubt that you want to know what treatments may be available. Unfortunately, there is no cure for EDS. However, physical therapy is typically recommended for EDS patients and may include the use of joint mobility aids, such as knee braces.
Dental Treatment for Gum Disease in an EDS Patient
As was stated earlier, people with EDS tend to develop gum disease. It's important to know if you (and/or your children) have EDS or not because it can change the way you receive dental treatments, particularly since your gum tissue has elasticity.
For example, stitches would need to be carefully placed in your gums because your gum tissue may not be strong enough to hold stitches in place. Therefore, traditional treatment methods for gum disease that involve surgically cutting and stitching gum tissue are not recommended.
Fortunately, laser gum treatment is an option for gum disease in someone with EDS because it does not require the use of stitches. It's important to discuss your TMJ and possible EDS with your dentist prior to receiving dental treatment so he or she is aware of them. For more information, consider sites like http://www.neufamilydental.com.