Your jaw might seem like a simple part of your body. In fact, you may not think about it at all–unless it gives you problems. However, your jaw actually plays a crucial role in your oral health. Your jaw does so much more than what you may realize. It plays a part in supporting your facial structure and helping you chew your food. When you have issues with your jaw, it can have major impacts on your health.
The Joint Connection
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge connecting your jawbone to your skull. It’s responsible for your jaw’s movement—up, down, and side to side. When this joint functions properly, you can talk, chew, and yawn without any discomfort. However, if it becomes imbalanced or strained, it can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). This condition can cause pain, clicking sounds, and even headaches.
How Your Jaw Aids Digestion
When you bite into that delicious apple or munch on a crispy snack, your jaw springs into action. However, chewing isn’t just about breaking down food into smaller pieces. It kickstarts the digestion process. The jaw’s movement helps mix saliva with food. Your saliva contains vital enzymes that begin the process of breaking down carbohydrates. This initial digestion sets the stage for your stomach and intestines to absorb nutrients effectively. With a dysfunctional TMJ, you can develop nutritional deficiencies.
Jaw Position and Airway Health
Believe it or not, your jaw’s position can affect your breathing ability. A misaligned jaw can lead to obstructed airways. This can potentially contribute to sleep apnea and other breathing difficulties. Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops throughout your sleep. It can lead to serious health issues like heart disease or stroke.
Teeth grinding, known as bruxism, can wreak havoc on your teeth and jaw. It usually happens at night and often goes unnoticed. Over time, bruxism can wear down your teeth and strain your jaw muscles. A customized nightguard can provide a protective barrier. It will prevent direct contact between your upper and lower teeth. As a result, it will alleviate the additional strain on your jaw.
Support System for Teeth
Your teeth don’t float in your mouth; they’re anchored to your jawbone. A healthy jawbone provides the necessary foundation for your teeth to stay firmly in place. When you chew, the pressure stimulates the jawbone, encouraging its strength and density. This stimulation is essential for preventing bone loss. Without proper stimulation, it can also lead to tooth mobility and even tooth loss over time.
The Aesthetic Angle
Have you ever noticed someone’s facial appearance change after they’ve lost teeth? Your jawbone plays a pivotal role in maintaining the structure of your face. When teeth are missing, the jawbone can start to deteriorate. As a result, you may gain a sunken look. Dental implants can help preserve the bone’s density. This will also help maintain the natural contours of your face and prevent premature aging.