Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Questions TMJ

Is TMJ genetic?

I've had TMJ for as long as I can remember, and haven't yet gotten it treated (I really just learned how to deal with it). Is there a chance that my daughter can have this disorder since I have it?

8 Answers

First of all let's get our terminology right. TMJ means "Temporomandibular Joint" and everyone has two of them; however when they don't function correctly, it's then termed Temporomandibular Dysfunction or TMD. The most frequent cause of TMD is an impact to the chin while the mouth is open, and the lower jaw bone (the Mandible) is forced backward stretching the ligaments that hold the joint tightly together. This will cause the joint to click which is a sign that it is damaged. Sometimes TMD is not really the joint but the muscles that control jaw movements, and this can be related to tooth position. This is easier to fix than damage in the joint. Tooth position can be genetic. Joint damage usually isn't genetic.
TMJ is not genetic. There are multiple variables that cause TMJ.
Realizing that TMJ is a component of several systems the musculoskeletal system the nervous system and the dental occlusion of the patient that can combine and be genetically transmitted to our children. Skeletal patterns differ as much as different growth patterns and habits affect the growth and development of good occlusion during adolescence. And orthodontists should be consulted to determine if your problem is genetic, functional, or skeletal or a combination of all three and how best to treat it.
No, TMJ is not genetic. However, arthritis is genetic and can affect all joints. It is unlikely your daughter will develop this disorder.
As far as we know TMJ isn’t necessarily genetic. Factors that cause TMJ are trauma to the jaw joints, bruxing or grinding, severe crowded occlusion, abnormalities in the joints of the jaw, arthritic changes in the joints of the jaw, etc.
My experience has been that there is usually more of a connection between siblings than generations. There are definite ways to treat this disorder and make you free from pain and not have to be married to a piece of plastic or a splint for the rest of your life. Some patients have sleep apnea that is part of the TMJ problem. I treat that with a DNA appliance to expand the airway and the upper and lower jaw in adults and children then the expansion can help with the symptoms of TMJ. The other way I treat TMJ is by using a computer to evaluate the amount of pressure you have to exert from your muscles to close your teeth together to chew. When there is too much pressure on any given tooth and your bite is not perfectly balanced, your muscles are required to squeeze harder to try to get all of the teeth to make contact. That increased force causes muscle tension and pain that is called TMJ. I use a computer aided instrument called T-scan to help identify which teeth are hitting too hard and which teeth are not making enough contact. Combining that with a Bio EMG to evaluate the muscle exertion allows the dentist to balance your bite and make sure the muscles are firing efficiently.


Dr. Platt
There is no study show that TMJ diseases are not genetically related. However, if you develop TMJ because of your facial skeletal deformity, and your child carries the same features, then she can develop TMJ problems as well. If that is the case, the best recommendation is to have your child sees the orthodontist at the young age in order you detect any early symptoms and provide appropriate treatment.
TMJ issues could be genetic, but more likely are induced by environmental influences, i.e., trauma, clenching, etc. Best to have an evaluation by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. 

Thank you.