Understanding Jaw Pain

Understanding Jaw Pain

Dr. Joshua Colkmire Jaw Health, Oral Health Leave a Comment

If your having throbbing jaw pain, it’s probably hard to focus on much else. There are so many reasons why your jaw could be giving you trouble. Whether you’re experiencing a dull ache, lingering soreness or a stabbing sensation, pain in your jaw and face can be frustrating and, in some cases, even debilitating. Your facial or jaw pain could be caused by one of numerous sources, but here are some of the common culprits.

Teeth grinding (bruxism)

Bruxism (BRUK-siz-um) is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth when you’re awake or clench or grind them during sleep. People who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea). Mild bruxism may not require treatment. However, in some people, bruxism can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems.

Common symptoms include teeth that are shortened and look very flat on top. You may have a constant dull headache or sore jaw, especially upon awakening since this often occurs unconsciously while you sleep. If you don’t want to risk loosing or having crooked teeth visit us at JC Dentist who can create a mouth guard to protect your teeth when you sleep. You also might want to see a psychotherapist or talk to your doctor about stress reduction exercises like meditation, physical exercise, physical therapy or possibly anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications.

Malocclusion (improper bite)

Occlusion is a term that is used to refer to the alignment of your teeth. Ideally, your teeth should fit easily within your mouth without any crowding or spacing issues. Ideally none of your teeth should be rotated or twisted. The teeth of your upper jaw should slightly overlap the teeth of your lower jaw so that the pointed ridges of your molars fit into the groves of the opposite molar.

Deviations from ideal occlusion are known as malocclusion. The type of deviation varies, but any type of misalignment can cause issues. Alignment of upper teeth is needed to prevent the cheeks and lips from being bitten, while alignment of lower teeth is needed to protect the tongue from being bitten. Malocclusion is usually an inherited condition. This means it can be passed down from one generation to the next. There are some conditions or habits that may change the shape and structure of the jaw including

  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Frequent use of a pacifier or bottle feeing after the age of 3
  • Thumb sucking in early childhood
  • Injuries that result in the misalignment of the jaw
  • Tumors in the mouth or jaw
  • Abnormally shaped or impacted teeth
  • Poor dental care that results in improperly fitting dental fillings, crowns, or braces
  • Airway obstruction (mouth breathing), potentially caused by allergies or by enlarged adenoids or tonsils

It’s best to visit us at JC Dentist if you suspect you are suffering from Malocclusion.  We can build a bridge or crowns to stop the “drift.” We may refer you to an orthodontist if you need braces, to an oral surgeon if you need teeth extracted or, rarely, to a surgeon to fix your jaw shape or repair poorly done previous dental procedures.

Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints (the joints that allow your mouth to open and close), and the nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Any problem that prevents the complex system of muscles, bones, and joints from working together in harmony may result in temporomandibular disorder. Forms of TMD include;

  • Myofascial pain. The most common form of TMD. It results in discomfort or pain in the fascia (connective tissue covering the muscles) and muscles that control jaw, neck and shoulder function.
  • Internal derangement of the joint. This means a dislocated jaw or displaced disk.
  • Degenerative joint disease. This includes osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the jaw joint.

Visit at JC Dentist to help with your TMD problems

Pain can be managed with behavioral techniques (correcting posture), medications and facial massage. A University of California study found that patients found significant relief with acupuncture. Botulin injections also can sometimes be effective. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. To find out more about your jaw pain make an appointment with JC Dentist today.

Dr. Joshua Colkmire

Dr. Colkmire’s dental degree comes from NYU College of Dentistry, and he also holds bachelor’s degrees from Lee University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the Florida Dental Association, and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is also a part of the renowned Seattle Study Club, a vibrant international network of dentists who meet to share knowledge about how to provide excellent care to each and every patient who comes into their practice.
Dr. Joshua Colkmire

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