Patients are often curious about what may be causing them jaw pain. Many times they complain of tightness, soreness, or popping and clicking in their jaw when they speak or eat, but aren’t sure where this pain is coming from.
The jaw joint, or the temporomandibular joint (also known as TMJ), is the joint responsible for moving the jaw. When something is wrong with this joint it is referred to as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMD. Unfortunately, any sort of TMD can result in a significant interruption in one’s daily lifestyle since this joint is used so frequently.
Determining the cause of your jaw pain is the first step to fixing the problem. There are 3 common sources of jaw pain, but having a discussion with your dentist is the best way to determine which of these may be affecting you.
1. Grinding or Clenching Your Teeth
Teeth grinding (or bruxism) is actually quite common, but when it happens regularly it can put some serious strain on your temporomandibular joint and your teeth. Many times people grind and clench their teeth while asleep, making them unaware of how serious the problem may be. The good news is that there are ways to relieve the strain on your jaw, such as getting a night guard or focusing on stress reduction.
2. A Malocclusion, or A Bad Bite
When your teeth are misaligned, your jaw is forced to move in an unnatural way each time you speak and chew. Over time, this can cause some wear and tear to the jaw joint, resulting in jaw pain. The most common way to fix a bad bite is with orthodontic treatment.
Your jaw joint can be damaged if you experience any type of trauma to your shoulders, neck, head, or face. Often this trauma will throw your jaw out of proper alignment and cause you to experience pain when biting and speaking.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to inform your dentist if you are experiencing jaw pain. Only with the guidance of a doctor can the correct course of action be determined.