One of the most common dental ailments we see at Wooddell & Passaro Restorative and Esthetic Dentistry is jaw pain. Many of our patients wonder whether their jaw pain is temporary or whether it’s due to a long-term problem like a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ. Here are some of the most common questions patients ask about TMJ and how to tell whether you need to see a dentist for TMJ treatment.
What Causes Jaw Pain?
The ability to open and close your mouth is a surprisingly delicate and complex system of muscles, tendons, and bone working together. There are many factors that can contribute to jaw pain, but one of the most common causes is a long history of teeth grinding. This can happen both during sleep and during the day, especially in people with a stressful job or lifestyle. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, causes jaw pain because it places pressure on the mouth muscles for a long period of time.
You may also experience jaw pain from an uneven bite, such as an overbite or underbite, or have missing teeth. When teeth are not properly aligned or shift in the mouth, they may become overworked when chewing or speaking. Unevenly worn teeth can also contribute to premature tooth decay.
Do I Have A TMJ Disorder?
Any pain associated with the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) on either side of your jaw is considered a TMJ disorder, or TMD. A TMD has a variety of symptoms, including:
- Jaw pain
- Neck pain
- Tension headaches
- Popping or clicking when opening or closing your mouth
- Chronic tooth grinding
TMJ is more difficult to identify and properly treat than many patients realize, but Dr. Wooddell and Dr. Passaro both have advanced training and extensive experience diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders. We’ll carefully evaluate your situation to determine the best course of treatment.
Do I Need to See A Dentist?
The right treatment depends on the underlying reason for jaw pain. After detailed imaging and evaluation, your dentist will be able to recommend the best treatment.
For example, if a misaligned bite is the culprit, you may need orthodontics or oral surgery. If a missing tooth is causing pain, you may need to consider restorative dentistry to replace the tooth and help your natural teeth stay in place. Some patients may be recommended a night guard, which can help hold the teeth in a better position and help with tooth grinding.
Schedule your appointment online or call us at (410) 343-7075 today to find out the best treatment for your jaw pain.