If your jaw clicks when it opens, or you can’t fully open it, or you have pain in your face and trouble chewing, then you’re among the 15% of Americans who have chronic jaw pain.
Your jaw joint is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. The name comes from the jaw’s role to connect your temporal bone in the skull with your mandible bone. Some people experience short-term pain that goes away with ice and over-the-counter medicine. But if you have chronic jaw pain or you can’t open your mouth, you might have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and it’s important to see your dentist right away to find relief.
Dr. Michelakis, Dr. Wilharm, Dr. Harrington, Dr. Miller, Dr. Hohl and Dr. Dobransky, your Oak Island and Bolivia dentists explain more below about the causes and treatments of jaw pain.
Different Kinds of Jaw Pain
Pain in your jaw can feel different depending on what’s going on. In order to best understand what’s causing your pain, try to notice when you specifically feel the pain and what specifically it feels like.
Do you have tightness, soreness, or clicking? Is the pain shooting sharp or a dull ache? Some jaw problems can also cause pain in your face, head, neck or shoulders. Many patients who have chronic migraines don’t realize it’s actually a dysfunction of their bite and TMJ. It’s important to see a dentist and explain what you’re feeling so that they can offer the best treatment options.
Causes of Jaw Pain
Your jaw has multiple parts that work together. The temporal bone and mandible bone join together with a piece of cartilage and a shock-absorbing disk. Pain often results from the cartilage being worn down or the disk being dislodged.
Causes of jaw pain include:
- Arthritis that inflames your joints
- Genetics that cause your connective tissues (jaw cartilage) to wear down
- Injury that dislodges the disk or just hurts your jaw
- Clenching or grinding your teeth that puts stress your jaw and muscles (bruxism)
- Headache or migraine that radiates pain down into your jaw (jaw pain can also cause headaches and create a bad cycle of pain)
- Periodontal disease or gum disease
- TMJ or temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Treating Jaw Pain
Only a professional medical provider can diagnose and treat TMD. Fixing your pain and treating it, in the long run, will all depend on what’s exactly causing the problem. If you’re suffering, we would love to help you. We will give you a full examination including watching and listening while you move your jaw and open your mouth. Sometimes dental x-rays and bite analysis are necessary to learn more.
To treat jaw pain, your Oak Island and Bolivia dentist might recommend:
- Physical therapy
- Avoiding chewing gum
- A custom night guard or mouthguard
- Stretching and massaging the muscle
- Pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs
- Orthodontics or restorative dentistry to correct tooth and bite alignment
- Counseling to relieve the stress that might be causing you to clench your teeth
- Corrective surgery performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon
If you have jaw pain or any other oral health questions, make an appointment at Coastal Cosmetic Family Dentistry today! Your oral health is key to taking care of yourself and enjoying your life.