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 dentists Dr. Paul Hahn and 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.
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.
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. Paul Hahn or 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.