If you have tingling or numbness in your fingers, you may blame all the typing or other repetitive work you do at your job. But did you know that it’s very likely that jaw problems are to blame? Up to a third of TMD patients experience prickling, tingling, or creeping sensations, called paresthesia of the fingers. If you’ve seen a doctor about this condition but haven’t been able to find the cause, neuromuscular dentistry can help!

To talk to neuromuscular dentist Dr. Adam Hahn about tingling or numbness in your fingers, please call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today for an appointment.

How TMJ Can Cause Tingling or Numbness in Your Fingers

The mechanism that causes tingling and numbness in fingers is similar to the one that leads to face, neck, shoulder, and back pain.

Because of our vertical posture, the human body is built like a tower of blocks that has to be carefully balanced. When your jaw rests higher on one side than the other, what we describe as a “rolled” jaw, your body has to compensate somehow. To maintain balance, your body will compensate by titling your shoulders in the opposite direction.

An illustration of a person’s skeleton and how vertical posture and how the human body is built like a tower of blocks that it needs to be balanced.

When your shoulder tilts in this way, it puts strains on some of your muscles, such as the scalene muscles in your neck, which often experience spasms as a result. The nerves that control your arms emerge from your neck vertebrae here and pass between the scalene muscles. Spasms in these muscles put pressure on the nerves and cause paresthesia.

Tingling and Numbness in the Jaw and Face

As with tingling and numbness caused in other parts of the body, this is usually related to pressure on a nerve that prevents sensation from being communicated between that part of the body and the brain. In the face and jaw, the responsible nerve is the trigeminal nerve and its branches, which you might remember are closely linked to migraines. In fact, some people develop this tingling and numbness in the early stages of TMJ, when pressure on the nerve is mild. As it grows more intense, the tingling can turn to pain.

Where you feel the tingling depends on what part of the trigeminal nerve is being pressured. The ophthalmic branch carries sensations from the eyeball, nose, eyelids, and foreheads. The maxillary branch takes stimuli from some parts of the nose, as well as your cheeks and upper teeth. The mandibular branch is going to cause tingling in the jaw, as well as the chin and tongue.

Why Other Treatments Don’t Work

If you go to a doctor or chiropractor to get relief for this type of tingling or numbness in your fingers, you may either be told there’s nothing wrong or given a treatment that provides only short-term relief.

A doctor, looking for local causes may evaluate the nerves in your fingers and arms and tell you they’re all fine.

A chiropractor may note misalignment in your spine and perform some adjustments that make you feel better for a while, but studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments don’t hold in people with untreated TMJ.

TMJ Treatment Can Alleviate Tingling or Numbness in the Fingers

During your first visit, Dr. Adam Hahn will listen to your description of your symptoms. We will then evaluate the position of your jaw, measure muscle tension, and listen to the sound of your jaw. We will determine whether your TMJ may be causing your paresthesia. If so, we will restore your jaw’s position.

Depending on the extent and cause of your rolled jaw, we may recommend an oral splint, called an orthotic. These are sometimes worn part time, but are usually worn as much as possible, and can even be made in a version that is affixed to your teeth. Orthotics are different than nightguards or grinding guards that are made purely to protect teeth from damage.

For more serious problems, we may recommend using dental restorations or orthodontics to build your teeth back up so they hold your jaw in its proper position.

Don’t keep suffering with numbness or tingling in your fingers, please call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today for an appointment.