Jaw Pain & TMJ

Jaw pain is a common problem that many people face daily. Most of the time, people ignore it, thinking it is a temporary issue. Some people even try to treat it at home with painkillers or home remedies. However, persistent jaw pain could be a sign of Temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a painful condition that affects the jaw joint and the muscles that control it. The temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull, and it is responsible for opening and closing your mouth, chewing, and talking. So, if you experience pain in your jaw, it can greatly affect your daily life.

TMJ Pain

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a hinge joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. The joint controls jaw movement, allowing you to talk, chew, and yawn. Temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly known as TMJ, occurs when there is a problem with the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles. While TMJ can be a result of physical injury or trauma, it can also occur due to repetitive movements from chewing gum, clenching your jaw, and grinding your teeth.

Common Causes of Jaw Pain

  • Bruxism: Teeth grinding or clenching, often occurring during sleep, can strain the jaw muscles and lead to jaw pain and headaches.

  • Dental issues: Cavities, gum disease, or tooth infections can cause localized jaw pain, especially when chewing or biting.

  • Trauma or injury: Physical trauma, such as a direct blow to the jaw, can result in jaw pain and even fractures.

  • Arthritis: Arthritic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can affect the jaw joints, causing pain and stiffness.

  • Sinus problems: Sinus infections or sinusitis can cause pain in the jaw, particularly in the upper jaw area.

  • Dental procedures: Some dental treatments, like tooth extraction or root canals, can cause temporary jaw pain as a side effect of the procedure.

  • Stress and anxiety: Chronic stress can lead to jaw clenching or tension, resulting in jaw pain and muscle fatigue.

  • Neuralgia: Conditions like trigeminal neuralgia can cause severe, stabbing jaw pain due to nerve irritation or compression.

  • Oral habits: chewing gum excessively, biting on hard objects, or using tobacco products can strain the jaw muscles and lead to pain.

  • Infections: Infections in the oral cavity, such as abscesses or salivary gland infections, can cause localized jaw pain.

  • Misalignment of the teeth or jaw: Malocclusion or improper alignment of the teeth and jaws can create chronic jaw pain.

Risk factors of TMJ:

The symptoms of TMJ can vary from person to person, but there are some common signs that you should be aware of. Anyone who is experiencing any of the following symptoms should get in touch with Dr. Patel at Suburban TMJ and Sleep Center for a comprehensive TMJ treatment plan.

  • Pain in the jaw, face, or neck. The pain can be sharp or dull, and it can radiate from your jaw to other areas of your head and neck. You may also notice that jaw pain is worse when you are chewing or talking.

  • Limited jaw movement. You may find it difficult to open or close your mouth fully, and you may also feel like your jaw gets stuck or locked in position. 

  • A clicking or popping when you open your mouth. This is caused by the misalignment of the jaw joint and can occur when you are chewing or talking. Sometimes, the popping sound can be accompanied by pain, which can be bothersome.

  • Tenderness in the jaw muscles. The muscles that control your jaw movement can become tender and sore due to the constant strain that TMJ puts on them. You may feel like the muscles around your jaw are tight and tense, which can lead to pain and discomfort.

Seeking Treatment

Left untreated, TMJ can lead to more severe problems. When the muscle groups in your jaw are not working efficiently, they can lead to other complications like headaches, earaches, and neck pains. In some cases, the joint may become displaced, which can lead to more severe symptoms such as limited mouth opening, locked jaw, and even damage to the teeth.

It's essential to note that TMJ can also impact your sleep quality. TMJ patients are more likely to suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea than those without TMJ. Proper treatment can reduce the likelihood of having sleep disorders.

Dr. Patel has years of experience treating jaw pain and TMJ and can provide you with a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs. The treatment plans may include a combination of pain management, oral appliance, and jaw exercises. They may also use advanced techniques, such as to relax the muscles and alleviate the pain. Make an appointment with Dr. Patel today and start your journey towards a pain-free life!

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