If you are experiencing pain in your jaw, particularly at the joints, this might be a result of an underlying medical or dental disease or an indication of a chronic disorder.
When you have pain or problems with your jaw and muscles in your face that control your jaw, this is known as Temporomandibular Disorder and more commonly referred to as TMD.
Your jaw bones, the maxilla and mandible, are facial bones that support your upper and lower teeth. The lower jaw moves with the help of a joint called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which is made up of a bone below the mouth (mandible) and a bone above the mouth (maxilla) and between them a disk is sandwiched and covered by a group of muscles and tendons. This joint complex allows normal movement of jaw during mastication (chewing) and speaking.
Symptoms of Chronic Jaw Pain
TMD affects the jaw joints, facial muscles and surrounding tissues. This disorder can affect one or both sides of your jaw and can cause extreme pain, discomfort and be quite disruptive to regular function. Some common symptoms that may indicate you suffer from TMD include:
- A popping or clicking sensation or sound when your jaw opens and closes with pain
- Tenderness and pain in your jaw joint area up to your ears and even down to your shoulders and neck
- Limited opening, or the jaw becoming stuck or locked in a position
- Tooth pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Generalized facial pain and headaches
Common Causes of Chronic Jaw Pain
If you are experiencing chronic jaw pain, it could be a result of several factors including other health related issues:
Poor Dental Health
This type of pain originates from an infection of one of multiple teeth, and the pain can be felt to radiate through the jaw.
If there is some pathology or inflammation in the TMJ joint or disc there may be pain in the jaws.
Coronary artery disease or a narrowing of the blood supply to the muscles of the heart can cause angina or pain the central chest, and this pain can also radiate towards the jaws. This is typically felt in the mandible and medical help should be sought out immediately.
Jaw Bone Disease
Chronic infections like osteomylitis, cysts, or tumors can cause chronic pain in the jaws.
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a nerve condition that can cause severe facial pain that can involve jaw area.
Arthritis is an inflammatory disease of joints resulting in symptoms of pain and swelling. This can affect the joints of the jaw.
During pregnancy, hormonal changes and imbalances induce many of the body joints to become soften and relaxed adding to the pain in some of the joints.
Treatment of Chronic Jaw Pain
If you are experiencing chronic jaw pain, it is best to have your Burnaby Dentist conduct an examination, diagnose your symptoms and provide a treatment plan. Depending on the results of the examination, your Dentist may refer you to an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.
Remedies and Treatments
There are many home remedies and exercises that can be done to help relieve jaw pain:
- Eat soft food and avoid foods that require a lot of chewing.
- Limit jaw movements and avoid opening your mouth wide. This includes not chewing gum or ice, avoid yawning, yelling and other movements that open your mouth wide.
- Invest in a mouth guard to avoid teeth grinding or clenching your teeth.
- Practice some jaw-stretching exercises as recommended by your Dentist
- Use relaxation techniques such as massage to help reduce tension around the TMJ joint.
- Take over the counter medication such as ibuprofen, to help relieve muscle pain and swelling.
If you are experiencing pain in your jaw or any of the above mentioned symptoms, be sure to mention them to your Burnaby Dentist at your next appointment. If you have any questions about TMD feel free to contact North Burnaby Dental Group and they will be happy to provide answers.