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Your jaw muscles play a significant role in your body functioning correctly. The jaw muscles allow us to speak, drink, chew, and it’s even responsible for making facial expressions. If you’ve been experiencing chronic jaw pain, it’s likely you already realize just how much a person uses their jaw and how persistent discomfort can make everyday situations uncomfortable.
While there are various levels of jaw pain, several effective treatment options are proven to help relieve tension and discomfort. Diagnosing where the discomfort is coming from is the first step towards finding a solution.
Here’s What Persistent Jaw Pain Could Mean
The reason behind why your jaw hurts could be a sign of something as common as a toothache or as severe as a sign of a heart attack. Untreated jaw pain can lead to poor oral health, breakdown and loss of teeth and bone, chronic headaches, and hearing problems. Some of the possible causes of your jaw pain are below.
Signs of a TMJ Disorder
On each side of your jawbone lies a temporomandibular joint, or more well known as TMJ. This joint acts as a hinge that connects your jaw to your skull. Although there are various TMJ disorders, they all share jaw pain as the most common symptom patients experience.
Signs of a TMJ disorder include:
- Jaw stiffness
- Difficulty opening your jaw,
- A painful clicking or popping sound when opening or closing your mouth
- Feeling like your jaw is “locked”
- Constant headaches
- Vision problems
- Ringing in your ears
A Symptom of Stress
Stress and anxiety often lead to patients developing Bruxism or the habit of grinding their teeth. Often happening during sleep, patients clench and grind their teeth together without even realizing it, which creates a lot of tension in your teeth and jaw, along with the muscles and tendons that support your jaw. In addition to jaw pain, grinding your teeth can quickly cause extensive damage to your teeth and should be treated right away.
When your teeth are no longer lined up properly when you bite or chew, it causes your jaw to malfunction. This creates wear and tear and resultant pain in the jaws, joints, and muscles. A misaligned bite is typically treated with orthodontic treatments to align the teeth properly.
An Impacted Wisdom Tooth
If your wisdom tooth begins to come in, and there is not enough room in the bite when the tooth breaks through the gums, it can become trapped or impacted. This is common with wisdom teeth and is one of the top reasons behind an achy jaw for patients ages 15-25.
An Untreated Cavity
When a cavity goes untreated, it works its way into the layer underneath your enamel or your dentin, which leads to you beginning to feel discomfort and aching teeth. If the cavity continues down into the pulp of your tooth, it can cause pain to radiate around your jaw.
Determining the Source of Your Pain
According to the American Dental Association, more than 15% of Americans suffer from chronic facial pain such as headaches, earaches, or jaw pain. For many patients, discomfort and pain related to TMJ can last for years if left untreated. Determining the source of your pain is the first step in treating your discomfort. Our team at Aubrey Baudean DDS will check to see if your pain is associated with TMJ by examining the facial muscles. During your exam, we will check for tenderness, perform a range of motion exam to listen for locking, clicking, or popping, and take a series of x-rays to check the positioning and contact of your jaw.
Effective TMJ Treatments
The key to treating TMJ is management. We use trigger-point injections of Botox therapeutic to relax the muscles surrounding the joint and, in most cases, relieve the pain and spasms entirely. Mouthguards may be prescribed to protect the teeth from damage, and treatment to correct the placement of teeth may be necessary to restore proper alignment of the jaw. Together we can manage your chronic jaw pain and restore your quality of life. Don’t spend one more day with chronic jaw pain, and schedule an appointment with Dr. Baudean DDS today.