Smoking cigarettes is one of the single worst things you can do for your health, yet an astounding 34.1 million Americans still smoke cigarettes. Cigarettes can do everything from giving you bad breath, stained teeth, lost teeth, and gum disease to causing cancer and heart disease. To say that they are dangerous is an understatement. But now, a new study has found even more reasons to quit the cigarette habit for good: it could be worsening your temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Though temporomandibular joint dysfunction (or TMJ dysfunction for short) is caused by many things, one particular cause can be worsened by the use of cigarettes. In a study by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, researchers set out to examine the effects of smoking on TMJ dysfunction. They looked at 606 temporomandibular joint dysfunction patients over a two-year period, all with a variety of different TMJ dysfunction causes.
While those with TMJ dysfunction pain from genetics and injury did not appear to have any adverse effects to their jaw from smoking, a subset of the group – those with arthritis and fibromyalgia- did.
You see, the subjects who smoked and also had arthritis and fibromyalgia suffered worse TMJ dysfunction pain than those who didn’t smoke, and who didn’t have fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Though researchers are unable to pinpoint exactly why this group suffered worse pain from smoking, they theorize that because smoking causes increased joint degeneration, in combination with degenerative conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis, smoking creates a perfect storm of deterioration and pain.
So what does this mean for patients in this group? Well, for starters they (and everyone else) should quit smoking as soon as possible. Though smoking did not have adverse effects on those with other forms of TMJ dysfunction it is still a dangerous habit and should be stopped.
Second, if you are suffering from TMJ dysfunction for any reason, you should schedule a consultation with Dr. Abelar if you haven’t already. He can get you on an individualized treatment plan which can realign your jaw and bite and get you back to feeling your best.