LAST UPDATED: OCTOBER 31, 2017
What Causes Abnormal Jaw Pains and How to Treat It
When jaw pain strikes, it is often difficult to perform basic actions such as chewing and speaking comfortably. Although pain from other areas of your body can be referred to the jaw, this type of pain is usually associated with either your temporomandibular joint or the muscles and tendons that surround it. Since this joint is one of the most complicated ones in your body, it is important to have even the slightest or briefest bit of pain assessed by your orthodontist. While there are many things that could be contributing to your discomfort, the following list includes some of the most common issues that your orthodontist may find during your exam along with possible treatment options for finding relief.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
This disorder simply involves a malfunction within the joint that may be caused by muscle tension, a structural abnormality, misaligned bite or crooked teeth. If this is the cause of your pain, you may sometimes hear a slight clicking or popping noise when you open and close your mouth. It is also possible for your jaw to lock into place at times, and chewing hard or sticky foods can increase your symptoms. Headaches may accompany the jaw pain in TMJ sufferers. Although the symptoms of TMJ can range from mild to severe, it is important to note that they tend to worsen as a person ages. For those whose TMJ is related to misaligned teeth, braces may be recommended to move them into the proper place. You may also be given self-care instructions such as using hot and cool compresses to ease inflammation caused by TMJ.
Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is another common cause of jaw pain. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of what they are doing in their sleep so you or your child may have no idea that this is causing your pain. If this goes on too long, you can experience long-term damage to your mouth and teeth such as broken or worn down teeth. Tooth grinding is a behavior that can increase during times of stress, or it could be your body’s response to accommodate for the discomfort created by misaligned teeth. Your orthodontic team will assess your mouth to determine if you might be a candidate for treatment such as Invisalign that helps to realign your teeth so that you will be less likely to grind them at night.
People tend to think of arthritis happening in the knees or hands, but it can also occur in the temporomandibular joint. When it does, the teeth can become misaligned due to the swelling. This further increases the severity of the pain. Preventing arthritis can be done by making sure that crooked teeth are treated with braces early in life so that behaviors that contribute to wear and tear on the joint are decreased. In severe cases, medications may be prescribed to reduce joint swelling and slow down the progression of the condition.
There are times when patients run to their orthodontic office only to discover that their jaw pain is related to stress. This is because habits such as clenching and tooth grinding tend to occur during stressful times in a person’s life. Stress-related jaw pain can often mimic dental problems because it causes shooting pains through the jaw and cheek area. Headaches may be present, and you may notice that your jaw hurts more with movement. When stress is related to your physical appearance, treatments such as Invisalign can give you more confidence. Alternatively, your orthodontist can show you relaxation exercises for your jaw and body that relieve the tension that contributes to the pain.
Jaw pain can come on suddenly and strong, or it may gradually appear. Yet, uncovering the underlying cause is essential for helping you get back to enjoying the simple things in life like eating again.
Call Our Orthodontist Today to Schedule Your First Appointment
At Childers Orthodontics in Benton, Ill., Dr. Kyle R. Childers offers expert care for children, teenagers and adults. Our orthodontist provides these treatments to repair misaligned teeth:
• Damon System – passive self-ligating devices
• Braces – traditional wires and brackets or color-matching ceramic brackets
• Aligners – designed by Invisalign
• Retainers – designed for keeping teeth in correct positions
• SureSmile – customized arch wires
• Propel – alveolar perforations for faster bone formation
Call us to schedule your first orthodontic evaluation.
201 West Washington
Benton, IL 62812
Phone: (618) 438-2815