Jaw pain can be quite disruptive. In fact, jaw pain can limit your ability to speak and eat like you normally do. In many cases, jaw pain can create discomfort in nearby areas, such as your neck, ears, face and head. As with many ailments in your body, effectively treating jaw pain must start with accurately determining its cause.
For the majority of patients, jaw pain can be traced back to the TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint. This joint is what connects the jaw to the skull and allows you to open and close your mouth. Unfortunately, this joint is surrounded by a group of muscles, nerves and tissues that can become inflamed, strained or irritated. When the TMJ is overworked in any way, it can result in disruptive jaw pain.
What Irritates Your TMJ?
The cause of your jaw pain may be rooted in an inflamed or malfunctioning TMJ. When diagnosing your TMJ issues, there are two main culprits to evaluate: misalignment and bruxism.
Misalignment. When your teeth don’t line up correctly, it can force your bite into an unbalanced position, which is otherwise known as malocclusion. If you have a misaligned bite, your TMJ can be overworked on one side in an effort to create balance. In such cases, your jaw pain may need to be reversed with orthodontics or other dental work to create an even bite.
Bruxism. One of the most common causes of TMJ discomfort is bruxism, otherwise known as teeth grinding or clenching. The forces and pressures that are exerted on your jaw and teeth during teeth grinding can far exceed what your TMJ is designed to handle. Frequent teeth grinding (especially during the night) can lead to jaw pain, jaw stiffness, morning headaches, sore teeth, ear pain and much more. Treating jaw pain that is caused by bruxism, however, can be as simple as wearing a nighttime mouth guard that is custom-made from your dentist.
Don’t Live with Jaw Pain
If you are suffering from jaw pain, don’t dismiss and don’t assume you have to live with it. A skilled dentist at Pure Smiles Dentistry can diagnose TMJ issues and provide an effective and lasting solution. Jaw pain can also be an indication of jaw injury, severe infection or a dental abscess, so it needs to be addressed by a dental professional. Call Pure Smiles Dentistry today to schedule your consult.