When you think of sporting injuries, you probably don’t think of TMJ first. Perhaps you think of broken bones and teeth, or maybe you imagine concussions, like those that forced the NFL’s settlement of nearly a billion dollars. However, TMJ injuries in sports are fairly common, and can have long-term effects on your overall and oral health. Fortunately, TMJ treatment can often resolve these injuries.

Sports That Put You at Risk

TMJ may be caused by any kind of trauma to the jaw. Sports where jaw trauma is a relatively high risk include:

  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Boxing
  • Martial arts
  • Football
  • Hockey

Sports where you are less likely to use protective equipment, such as basketball and soccer, may put you at a slightly higher risk. Some trainers also say that using a mouth guard too much may put you at risk for TMJ. Unlike traumatic injuries, mouth guard overuse results in a chronic strain on the jaw muscles, which can lead to TMJ.

Types of TMJ Sports Injuries

Not all jaw injuries are the same. The type and severity of the jaw injury you receive will be related to the treatment recommended for you. Acute capsulitis is caused by direct trauma to the face. It results in immediate pain in the face, and likely a swelling at the TMJ. In response to the injury, your body will send fluid to the area, which can displace the cushioning disc in your joint. This is usually a short-term injury, and usually only requires some anti inflammatory medication. Acute closed lock is also caused by direct trauma to the face, but in this injury your disc is displaced by the force of the blow. You experience not only pain and swelling, but also an immediate reduction in the ability to open and close your mouth. This type of injury may also resolve on its own, but it may also benefit from the use of oral appliance TMJ treatment. Open locking may also be caused by facial trauma, which displaces the disc from its proper position. You will feel that your jaw is stuck open. You may not feel much pain, but the sensation of not being able to close your mouth can be traumatic.

Chronic TMJ can be caused by sports injury as well. You may have non-painful clicking that doesn’t affect your jaw’s working, or you may experience numerous other symptoms that may include locking jaw, headaches, and more.

Oral appliance therapy is an often-recommended treatment for chronic TMJ. If you have suffered a TMJ injury in sports, we can help. Please contact Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics at (509) 532-1111 today to learn more about your TMJ treatment options.