If Your Jaw Joint Hurts – There Is a Reason

Get Relief from Jaw Pain

Jaw joints can be affected by several different things, and some of them might surprise you. You probably would not be surprised to know that a toothache could be behind pain in your jaw or excessive chewing. Some of these other causes, though, may not only surprise you, but you may discover the reason for your pain.

About TMJ

Jaw pain, especially when it is in the jaw joint, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ), in particular, may be caused by one or more factors. They are wide-ranging, and some of them you may not even realize have any connection with it at all. In many cases, jaw pain is not lasting. It may only occur for a week or so, and then disappear.

Causes of TMJ

Here are some problems that you may have that could be causing your jaw joint pain.
  • Grinding Your Teeth

This is a common cause of TMJ. Many people grind their teeth, which is also called bruxism, while they sleep. It will not only cause jaw pain, but it can also cause jaw fatigue and serious dental problems. Problems could include teeth that are ground down until they are short, cracked and chipped teeth. The constant grinding can also destroy any dental work you have already had such as fillings, veneers, crowns, dentures, and more.

A dentist can easily identify people who grind their teeth – whether they are aware of it or not. Steps can be taken to preserve the teeth with a customized mouth guard. If the problem is aggravated by stress, the dentist can recommend some stress reduction programs to you, which may include exercise, therapy, or medications.

  • Infection

If you have an infection in your gums or an infection in a tooth, it can also lead to TMJ pain. It could be caused by an abscessed tooth, which is a condition that requires immediate attention. The infection is spreading and must be stopped by dental care. It could be fatal if not treated soon enough.

  • Clenching Your Teeth

When facing stress, it is not uncommon that people clench their teeth. They can do this when awake or asleep, and it will be worse when there is more stress. This places pressure on the jaw joint, which can lead to constant jaw pain. Jaw clenching can also damage your teeth.

  • Heart Attack

When women have a heart attack, the symptoms are often different than when men have one. Pain in the jaw may be a signal that a heart attack is occurring, but it may be brief. Other symptoms that may also occur at the same time in women, or over a period of a few days, include back pain, shortness of breath, and nausea and vomiting. The pain in the jaw is apt to be felt on the left side of the face while the heart attack is occurring.

  • Sleep Apnea

About 25 percent of people who grind their teeth also have sleep apnea. Many people who have this medical problem do not know they have it unless their bed partner tells them that they stop breathing while they are sleeping.

Getting diagnosed and treated is very important because sleep apnea can lead to many serious medical problems, and may even be fatal. It can cause problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and depression. When you also consider the fact that they are also very tired all the time, it can also cause car accidents and problems when operating machinery.

TMJ Symptoms

When you have TMJ, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
  • Pain in the temporomandibular joints

  • Have difficulty or pain when chewing

  • Jaw joint may lock, making it hard to open or close

  • Clicking or popping sound when moving your jaw

  • An aching pain near or in the ear.

At-home Treatments for TMJ

Many people could eliminate TMJ symptoms on their own at home. You can often help yourself get some TMJ pain relief by following these tips:

  • Reduce your stress

  • Avoid tough and chewy foods, such as gum, beef jerky, apples

  • Lay off the caffeine – it can add to muscle tension

  • Massage your jaw joint

  • Stay away from alcohol – which often makes teeth grinding worse

  • Do not chew on pencils or pens.

When to See a Dentist

A dentist can help diagnose pain in your jaw joints. They are trained to identify and treat problems in the mouth and jaw. Several treatments can be recommended and given, and most of them are non-surgical.

If you have jaw joint pain and are looking for TMJ treatment or jaw pain relief, you can contact Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He can provide you with TMJ remedies, as well as customized mouth guards to help with bruxism or sleep apnea. He has offices in the Carrollton, TX and Grapevine, TX areas. For a consultation or dental treatment for better oral health, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.