The most common musculoskeletal condition is chronic lower back pain. Everyone knows what chronic lower back pain is. The second most common musculoskeletal condition is temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder. Unless you suffer from it, you may not know exactly what temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder is, although you’ve probably heard its abbreviated name, TMJ or—more accurately—TMD.
THE EXPRESSION “getting long in the tooth” refers to gum recession, but this oral health problem isn’t necessarily connected to age. Gum recession is when the edge of the gingival tissue moves away from the crown of the tooth, exposing the root. The reason we tend to think of it as an age-related problem is that it tends to be so gradual that it takes many years to become noticeable, but it can begin at any age — even in childhood! — for a variety of reasons.
Many times, we don’t connect two things that aren’t directly related. For example, it took decades to discover the relationship between oral health and Alzheimer’s disease. The connection certainly wasn’t even obvious to researchers searching for Alzheimer’s cause. But it’s important to remember that, when it comes to the human body, everything is connected.
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that nearly 115 million Americans had either diabetes or prediabetes: 23.1 million diagnosed, 7.2 million undiagnosed, and 84.1 million with prediabetes. That’s over 34 percent of the population. The American Diabetes Association estimates that the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes will increase by 165 percent by 2050.
If you drive, the manufacturer of your car probably suggests you get the oil changed every 3,000 miles. There are even warning lights on the dashboard that turn on every 3,000 miles to remind you. Do you follow your car manufacturer’s suggestion, or do you change the oil every 5,000 or 10,000 miles? So what’s the big deal? The car runs just as good with 3,000-mile oil changes as it does with 10,000-mile oil changes. Maybe! Except you’ll never know if your car would have lasted an extra 5-10 years had you followed the manufacturer’s guidelines. Damage to the engine can be slow and cumulative and may not be evident for several years.
How do you sleep? More importantly, how do you wake up? When you awake after what may seem like a good night’s sleep, do you have a dull headache? Do you have neck pain, facial pain, or jaw pain? Do you get earaches, or do you have a generalized pain in the area below the ears? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it’s possible you suffer from sleep bruxism.
Sleep bruxism is more commonly known as teeth grinding, and it’s fairly common, especially in children. The problem is, it’s often difficult to know if you’re a teeth grinder unless someone tells you. Sometimes, the only way to know is by symptoms experienced while you’re awake.
What causes chipped and broken teeth? Participants in various sports often get their teeth broken—hockey comes to mind. An accident can also cause teeth to become chipped or broken. It’s clear that we associate damaged teeth with some out-of-the-ordinary event. Our teeth are certainly not going to become chipped or broken if we just sit at home with in ice-cold beverage, watching Netflix, right?
As the population has aged, dementia has skyrocketed to become the fifth biggest cause of death worldwide, with Alzheimer’s claiming 70% of those deaths. Yet we don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s.1 Alzheimer’s, which results in progressive loss of memory and cognitive function, usually over a decade or so, is devastating both to those who have it and to those they slowly leave behind.
Sometimes we hear things and we believe them because they just sound plausible: being cold can give you a cold; cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis; lightening never strikes in the same place twice; a flu shot can give you the flu; root canals are exceptionally painful. While none of the aforementioned myths are true, and the last one has been told and retold—apparently by those who have never had a root canal—for so long that most people probably believe it to be true. It’s not.