Patients recovering from the COVID-19 coronavirus have been reporting many issues that have become problems following their illness, including heart, lung, and even jaw problems. A recent article even featured a doctor who upon finally testing negative for COVID-19 discovered that he had developed the jaw condition temporomandibular joint dysfunction as a side effect of the coronavirus. He suspects because of the strain of heavy mouth-breathing he put excess pressure on the jaw, causing the temporomandibular joint to become misaligned.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction occurs when the lower jaw bone and upper jaw bone become misaligned, causing pain, difficulty chewing and speaking jaw stiffness, and many other side effects.
The good news is that temporomandibular joint dysfunction (or TMJ dysfunction for short) is treatable, but the bad news is that treatment requires patience.
Typical treatments for temporomandibular joint dysfunction include physical therapy, hot and cold packs, and a specialized form of dentistry called neuromuscular dentistry. Neuromuscular dentistry focuses on realigning the temporomandibular joint with the rest of the skull, eliminating the misalignment and in the process, the pain.
Neuromuscular dentistry can be any combination of treatments, including exercises for the jaw, and even orthodontics. Another possible treatment is a bite guard. Some patients recovering from COVID-19 may have experienced stress and strain from difficulty breathing and as a result, developed a condition called bruxism, or grinding of the teeth. This condition can wear away at the tooth enamel, causing chips and cracks.
If you are recovering from COVID-19 and noticing jaw pain, clicking and popping when you open and close your mouth, or experiencing jaw clenching or teeth grinding, this could be caused as a result of your coronavirus illness, and you should speak to Dr. Abelar to be evaluated for TMJ dysfunction or bruxism.
If you are still noticing these symptoms and have never had COVID-19, you could still very well have bruxism or TMJ dysfunction and should be evaluated as well. It will not only protect your jaw, it will protect those beautiful, irreplaceable teeth.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Abelar, please call the office at (858) 523-1400.