Chronic facial pain and jaw pain is a very common condition. Some common symptoms of jaw pain include pain in or around the ear, tenderness of the jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, or moderate to severe headaches and neck pain.
Two joints and several jaw muscles make it possible to open and close the mouth. They work together when you chew, speak or swallow. They include muscles and ligaments, as well as the jaw bone--the mandible with two joints called the temporomandibular joints or “TMJ.”
The TM joints are among the most complex joints in the body. Located on each side of the head, they work together to make many different movements, including a combination of rotating and gliding actions used when chewing and speaking.
Each TM joint has a disc between the ball and socket (see diagram). The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder and jaw pain.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Our dentists at Redmond Molloy can help identify the source of the jaw pain with a thorough dental exam and appropriate x-rays. Often, the jaw pain may be from a sinus problem, a toothache or an early stage of periodontal disease.
But for some types of jaw pain, the cause is not easily diagnosed. The pain may be related to the facial muscles, the jaw or the TM joint.
Some TM problems result from arthritis, dislocation or injury. Muscles that move the joints are also subject to injury and disease. Injuries to the jaw, head or neck, and diseases such as arthritis, might cause some TM problems. Other factors relating to the way the upper and lower teeth fit together (the bite) may cause some types of TM disorders. Stress and teeth grinding are also considered as possible factors.
Diagnosis is an important step before treatment. Part of the dental examination includes checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. Your complete medical history may be reviewed. Our dentists may take x-rays and may make a "cast" of your teeth to see how the upper and lower teeth fit together.
There are several treatments for TMJ disorders. They may include simple resting of the jaw a softer diet for a short time frame, stress-reducing exercises, wearing a mouth protector / Grinding Splint to prevent teeth grinding, orthodontic treatment, medication or surgery.
Treatment may involve a series of steps beginning with the most conservative options. In many cases, only minor, relatively non-invasive treatment may be needed to help reduce the pain.
If you have jaw pain book and appointment now