Eating is something people do every day and something we all want to enjoy. Good food and good times often go hand-in-hand. If you’re experiencing jaw pain, however, chewing can become one of the worst parts of your day.
But jaw pain doesn’t end there – it comes in different shapes and sizes. Some experience a dull pain during meals, while others can suffer from debilitating pain that never seems to go away. Pain can be felt in the jaw, but also in the ears, head, or face.
In this article, we’ll explore a few of the most common causes of jaw pain and offer suggestions for improvement.
But first, a couple of important acronyms. Your jaw joint is actually called the “Temporomandibular Joint,” or TMJ for short. When something is wrong with your TMJ, we call it TMJ dysfunction, or TMD for short. If your jaw is hurting, then it is the result of TMD. It’s important to remember that TMD is a condition, not a specific disease. This means that there could be several different causes for your jaw pain.
Teeth grinding occurs when you clench your teeth and can quickly damage your teeth or cause TMD. People who are stressed are more prone to grinding their teeth, but some people also grind their teeth while they sleep without realizing it.
If you struggle with grinding your teeth, start looking for ways to relieve stress. Not only will it help improve your oral health, but also the general health of your body. Even if you don’t grind your teeth, reducing stress can help reduce the tension in your jaw that can lead to greater pain.
If you’re still grinding your teeth at night and you can’t stop yourself, then your dentist can suggest a custom mouth guard that will prevent you from grinding and damaging your teeth while sleeping.
Jaw pain can sometimes be caused by infections, such as Osteomyelitis. This condition travels through the body’s bloodstream and affects different bones and surrounding tissues. Should it affect your jawbone, it can lead to jaw pain, fever, and swelling. Fortunately, Osteomyelitis is generally curable with antibiotics or a surgical procedure. The earlier it’s caught, the easier it will be to treat.
Malocclusion is the medical word for having a bad bite. In other words, the shape of your jaw and the size of your teeth don’t fit properly. This is a very common problem, at least 1 out of every 5 adults has malocclusion.
When your bite doesn’t fit right, it can create imbalance and, over time, cause strain on your jaw. This can happen for several different reasons. For instance, you might chew everything on one side of your jaw instead of both. Or, you might chew differently to prevent your teeth from hitting each other in an uncomfortable way. Whatever the reason, malocclusion can cause you to use your jaw in a slightly different way than it was designed, gradually increasing chances of TMD.
Fortunately, bites can also be fixed. Some cases simply require a quick occlusal adjustment. Other cases might require an orthodontic appliance or treatment.
Quite a few common dental conditions can also cause jaw pain. Gum disease, cavities, or an abscessed tooth can cause pain in your mouth. Although these conditions are not located in the jaw, the pain can become so great that it radiates into the jaw.
Your dentist can recognize these conditions as part of your regular cleanings or during an evaluation of your TMD. Treatments vary by condition, but can definitely be managed to reduce the pain of your mouth and jaw.
Schedule an evaluation of your TMD
If you’re suffering from TMD, then it’s absolutely vital that you schedule an evaluation with your dentist. Your dentist will check for different causes, including the joint tissue in the “hinge” of the jaw, in order to determine the best treatments. Because TMD has several different causes, there will also be several different treatments and it is important to identify the right one quickly.
If you’re struggling with a jaw that hurts and you’re in the Cumming, Georgia area, then contact us today for an evaluation. Here at Bragg dental, we have extensive experience working with patients to improve their TMJ/TMD to enable a better quality of life and healthier smile. Depending on the severity of the pain, we can recommend different treatments to help manage TMD. These include pain relievers, cold compresses, mouth guards, appliances, and even surgery. We take a conservative approach, but we make sure we find the right solution.
We’d love to see you soon!