Jaw pain is a common dental concern that we treat in our dental practice. As your trusted restorative dentist in Durham, NC, we wanted to provide some additional information on jaw pain, what causes it, and how it can be treated. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about jaw pain:
Why does my jaw hurt?
There are many reasons why you might be experiencing jaw pain. One of the main reasons we see in our office is stress. People either grind their teeth at night or clench their teeth together during the day under circumstances of high stress. This puts additional tension on your mouth muscles and jawbone, causing jaw pain. Another common cause of jaw pain are issues with your bite pattern. Missing, crooked, or misaligned teeth are known to cause jaw pain because they throw off your bite pattern and put your dental structures under higher amounts of pressure to preform daily tasks like eating and speaking.
Is there an official name for jaw pain?
If it is determined that your jaw pain is being caused by the temporomandibular joint of your jaw, you will be considered to have a TMJ disorder. This joint is responsible for connecting the temporal bone of the skull and the lower mandible of the jaw to aid in chewing and speaking. Symptoms of a TMJ disorder include jaw pain, tension headaches, soreness around the neck and shoulders, or a popping or clicking noise when you open and close your mouth.
Are TMJ disorders treatable?
Yes, TMJ disorders are treatable. The way in which they are treated largely depends on what is discovered to be the underlying cause of the disorder for each patient. A bite guard or splint is often the first step, used early in treatment to be utilized while you sleep to help hold your jaw in a better resting position while you sleep. Dr. Blaylock also offers bite correction therapy and restorative dentistry solutions to help treat patients with TMJ disorders.
My jaw hurts right now. What should I do?
A cold compress to the jawbone or cheek will help reduce any facial swelling or inflammation caused by jaw pain. Additionally, you should avoid eating crunchy foods or chewing gum until the jaw pain subsides. Patients are encouraged to practice mindfulness throughout the day to help reduce their jaw pain flare-ups. Remind yourself to relax your facial muscles and stretch out your jaw during particularly stressful tasks to help reduce the amount of tension held there. Above all, the best thing you can do for your jaw pain is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Blaylock. He has extensive post-graduate training in the treatment of bite disorders such as TMJ and applies the Dawson Academy principles of complete dentistry when recommending treatment.