Jaw pain is one of those pains that seem to stop us dead in our tracks.
Millions suffer from it daily and it can be quite debilitating. But where in the world does it come from?
We have a joint, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), that connects the jaw to the temporal bones in the skull, which are right in front of each ear. This is what allows our jaw to move so that we can talk, chew, yawn, etc. Sometimes problems can occur with the joint itself or the muscles around it. This is known as temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, and is often incorrectly referred to as TMJ. When this joint is not working correctly, it can cause an extreme amount of pain every time we open our mouths for anything! Yawning, chewing, even speaking can become very uncomfortable. It can even effect the way in which we chew, which in turn effects the chewing process and ultimately the way teeth come together.
Some of the symptoms of TMD can include:
- Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw, neck and shoulders, or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide
- Can only open mouth partially
- Feeling that the jaw is “locked”
- Popping or clicking sounds when opening mouth
- Tired feeling in face
- Difficulty chewing
- Swelling on the side of the face
- Tension headaches
- Sore and tender jaw
- Tooth pain on back molars
- Teeth that are wearing down
TMD can be caused by injury to the jaw, arthritis, grinding or clenching the teeth, a bite that is not quite right, and a host of other things….even stress can have a pretty serious effect on the joint! If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to get in to see your dentist quickly. Fortunately, TMD is treatable. Your dentist can examine the cause of your TMD and create a personal treatment just for you. Why go one more day in pain and not smiling?!