When you have pain in your jaw joint, there are several possible causes. The dentist can help discover the cause and provide treatment for it. TMJ problemsare often painful, but relief can be provided.
Your jaw has the strongest muscles in your body. Normally, they pull evenly and cause no pain. If your jaw joint is damaged, it can offset your bite and your jaw muscles will often try to compensate for it. This can lead to jaw pain.
There are several possible causes as to why you might be having TMJ problems. They include:
- Deterioration of one or both of the jaw joints – arthritis
- Damage from an injury to the joint
- An uneven bite – possibly caused by missing teeth.
- An infection.
Symptoms of TMJ
Problems with the TMJ can have many symptoms, in addition to pain. They may last for a brief period or even for several years. They may include:
- Popping or clicking sounds when moving your jaw
- Locking of the jaw
- An earache
- A headache
- Facial pain
- Pain or difficulty chewing
Discovering the Cause
When you go to a dentist to diagnose the cause of a problem in your TMJ, it will likely result in several tests. After some basic questions, the dentist will start out with a simple examination of your mouth and jaw. An x-ray of your jaw will also be taken, and a mold of your bite.
Grinding and Clenching Your Jaw
If you grind or clench your jaw for long periods of time, or often, this can lead to problems with your TMJ. The ongoing pressure can place stress on the muscles and the joint, leading to pain. Another common cause of jaw pain is grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep. It is possible that you engage in this habit and do not even realize it.
If you grind or clench your teeth in your sleep, it may be a symptom of sleep apnea. If you or your bed partner know that you sometimes wake up gasping for air, or that your breathing stops at night, you need to have a sleep test. Sleep apnea often results in serious medical complications and may even be fatal. A dentist can help you with a special mouth guard to protect your teeth, and can also offer solutions for sleep apnea.
The dentist has several remedies that may be used to bring pain relief. Medications will likely be given for pain, but you also will be given some jaw exercises which will strengthen your jaw muscles. You will also be encouraged to reduce stress. Other solutions may include increasing the height of some teeth to correct the bite, surgery on the jaw joint to repair it or replace it, and more. Surgical options are usually only used after other methods have failed.
When to See the Dentist
In most cases, it is not necessary to see a dentist. You do want to visit the dentist when the pain is continuous or intolerable, and when the jaw locks or when you cannot fully open it.
The dentists at Global Family Dental can discover the cause of your TMJ problems and also provide remedies for it. They provide full dental services for the family. Call about any questions or to schedule an appointment and learn about our jaw pain relief treatments.