Why Is Your Jaw Hurting?
Prize fighters are not the only ones who suffer from jaw pain. The fact is the American Dental Association estimates as many as 15 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic jaw pain. If you happen to fall in this group and don’t make a habit of getting involved in fist fights, then you may be suffering from pain in your jaw when you open and close your mouth.
Jaw Pain Caused by TMJ
Perhaps in your dentist’s office or on a commercial advertising dental services, you have heard the term “TMJ”. What is it, and how could it relate to your jaw pain? TMJ is the abbreviation for temporomandibular joints. Most causes of chronic facial pain originate from there, hence the use of the joint name to describe the general condition (you may hear others refer to is as TMD for temporomandibular disorder).
What causes TMJ? The answer to that can be different for everyone. However dental science research has identified a few common causes based on case studies. These include:
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Stress-related muscle movements (such as a clenched jaw)
- Facial trauma
- Joint deterioration due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
Issues with your bite alignment may also contribute to cases of TMJ. For example, an unevenly placed filling or crown can cause your teeth to not rest comfortably together. While this may not manifest itself through jaw pain initially, over time the uneven pressure distribution throughout your jaw can cause undue stress on the joint. Fortunately, if this is determined to be the cause of your jaw pain, it can typically be easily addressed.
Jaw pain is often the first sign of TMJ, and thanks to the skills of Drs. Haines and White, it can also be the last. A simple occlusal adjustment may be all that is needed to address the problem. To see if that is indeed the case or if more complex treatments may be needed, contact us to schedule a consultation in our Cornelius, NC office right away, conveniently located near to Huntersville, NC.