With more than 3 million cases each year, many patients suffer from jaw pain classified as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, or TMD. In short, TMD, which is sometimes referred to as TMJ, results in pain in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. While jaw pain is the number one complaint, individuals often note that ear pain and popping, along with tension headaches are present. When it comes to your jaw pain, dentists want you to know—there is treatment to ease your pain.
While the exact causes of TMD are unclear, dental professionals believe that the following may play a role in the development of TMD:
- Injury to teeth or jaw (whiplash or a heavy blow, which causes misalignment)
- Grinding the teeth, which puts pressure on the joint
- Stress (resulting in tightening or clenching the jaw)
- Arthritis within the jaw joint
- Chewing gum
TMD may affect one side of the jaw, or both. It may be temporary or it may last for years. In general, more women experience TMD than men. Here are a few common symptoms:
- Pain, tenderness, or a feeling of tiredness in the face, jaw, neck, or shoulders. This pain can also extend to the ears, and may be aggravated when individuals speak or eat.
- Pain or clicking when opening the mouth wide
- Jaw that “locks” or gets stuck in an open or closed position
- A bite that is uncomfortable or feels “misaligned”
- Swelling or puffiness on one or both sides of the face
- Ringing in the ears or earaches
- Shoulder and neck pain
How Can My Dentist Help?
Because other conditions elicit similar symptoms and complaints as TMD, your dentist will first examine your jaw joints, listening for popping or grating sounds. He/she will look at your bite to make sure that it is aligned properly. For some cases, x-rays or even an MRI may be necessary to rule out other problems.
If your dentist determines that your pain is related to TMD, there are a few options for treatment. For some, it’s best to visit an oral surgeon or an orthodontist. Yet, for many, home treatments, including eliminating certain habits can help tremendously. For instance, applying moist heat or ice packs for ten minutes on each side of the face proves to relax tense muscles and reduce clenching of the jaw. In turn, opting for soft foods like yogurt, soup, eggs, and fruits and cooked vegetables will lessen the strain on the jaw joint. When in a sitting position, concentrating on keeping the mouth slightly open can also help. This eliminates the tendency to bite down or grind the teeth.
At Marvin Village Dentistry, we believe that when you take care of your oral health, you feel better overall. While you may believe that your jaw pain is attributed to something else, a simple examination can put your mind at ease and help you make the most informed decision about your pain. That’s why Dr. Walford and the team at Marvin Village Dentistry encourage you to call us today. We’re here to help.
Posted on behalf of Marvin Village Dentistry