Jaw Pain and TMJ disorders:
Jaw pain is a group of conditions collectively known as TMJD or TMD (temporo-mandibular joint disorder), named after the technical term for the jaw joints. As a group of loosely related conditions, there are many causes for developing this disorder, and usually it is caused by multiple factors. The most common causes of jaw pain include an overworked jaw, stress, increased pressure inside the joint itself, teeth grinding, and poorly aligned teeth/jaws. In addition to jaw pain, TMJD can cause clicking/popping in the jaw when it functions, wearing away of the teeth, locking of the jaw, and swelling on the sides of the face. The pain itself may be felt in the jaw joint itself, the ears, the side of the head, the neck and the shoulders, or any combination of these.
Diagnosis and treatment of TMJD can be very challenging. Often a variety of approaches is required to control the condition. As a general rule, our dentists recommend taking the following steps to reduce jaw pain.
- Spend 15 minutes a day massaging the joint area to reduce the stress in the muscles of the area.
- Do not strain the jaw too much by opening too wide, especially when eating. Cut food up into smaller pieces and eat more slowly and carefully.
- Stress relief techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises can reduce the impact of jaw pain.
One of the most common treatments for treating TMJD is using a splint. This is a small plastic arch-shaped plate that sits across top of your teeth, preventing the upper teeth from meeting the lower. In some cases, the splint serves to simply prevent the teeth from wearing away from grinding. More specialised designs can be used to deprogram bad habits in resting and functional jaw positions. Our dentists will determine the best course of treatment for you jaw pain with a combination of clinical and X-ray exams.