What Causes Abnormal Jaw Pains and How to Treat It?

Several Health Problems Can Cause Jaw Joint Pain

When you have chronic or intermittent jaw pain, it can disrupt your life. Discomfort in the jaw can occur at any age, but it primarily affects adults after normal wear and tear has damaged one or both of the jaw’s joints. Adults often have additional health problems such as arthritis that can affect their facial joints, or they may have had injuries to the face and neck that are affecting the jaw’s joints. It is important to determine if the pain in the jaw is caused by an infection from a tooth or from impacted wisdom teeth. If you have an infection in a tooth, then treatment with antibiotics or a root canal can eliminate the pain felt in the jaw. Alternatively, if you have one or more impacted wisdom teeth, then it is possible to have these teeth removed, and your level of pain will dissipate within a few weeks.

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?

In some cases, an orthodontist will diagnose you with temporomandibular joint dysfunction. This condition leads to pain in the jaw, and the pain can spread to nearby regions such as the neck or shoulders. There are several symptoms associated with temporomandibular joint dysfunction, including:

  • Migraines – especially in the morning
  • Earaches – caused by pressure from the swollen jaw joint
  • Sinus congestion – the inflammation from the jaw spreads into the face
  • Ringing in the ears – unusual sounds from nerve damage in the auditory canal
  • Clicking sounds – the jaw joints pop or crackle
  • Inability to open the mouth – the jaw’s joints stiffen
  • Muscle spasms – muscle contractions in the face, neck and shoulders

You may have one or more symptom from temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and the signs of the condition can change occasionally.

What Causes Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?

Researchers are still trying to understand the various reasons for someone to have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and it has several causes that include:

  • Genetics or abnormalities of the jawbone, teeth, and face
  • Injuries from whiplash in a vehicular accident or from playing sports
  • Poor body posture while sitting, walking, reclining or standing
  • Bruxism or teeth grinding
  • Sinus problems that lead to mouth breathing
  • Muscle tension from emotional stress
  • Chewing hard foods or objects

With medical images or an orthodontic examination, it is possible to understand if you clench or grind your teeth. An orthodontist will notice abnormal wear and tear on the biting surfaces of teeth, or you may have chipped the dental enamel.

An Examination At an Orthodontic Office Is Essential

In order to diagnose temporomandibular joint dysfunction, you need a complete examination to determine if you have other underlying conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or a sinus infection. By visiting an orthodontist, you can have X-rays of your teeth to determine if you have a bad bite. With computer software, it is possible for an orthodontist to see how the parts of your mouth function while you are talking, chewing or yawning. A misalignment of the teeth is one of the main causes of temporomandibular joint dysfunction, but fortunately, you can repair crooked teeth with clear plastic Invisalign aligners or by wearing some type of braces.

How To Cope With Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

After learning that you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, you can begin to use these techniques to reduce your discomfort:

  • Learn how to relax the facial and jaw muscles
  • Pain relievers or muscle relaxants
  • Meditation to reduce anxiety
  • Keeping your teeth from touching
  • Avoiding resting your chin on your hand
  • Eating soft foods or taking small bites of food
  • Night guard or splint devices to prevent bruxism
  • Ice packs or heat therapy
  • Sleeping in the proper position
  • Using a humidifier to prevent a dry mouth or sinuses
  • Preventing stress that causes teeth clenching
  • Losing weight
  • Don’t chew gum or hard candies

Orthodontic Treatment Can Correct a Bad Bite

If you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, then the goal of orthodontic treatment is to correct your bad bite to relieve the pressure inside your mouth. Orthodontic treatment can last for several months to five years, depending on the severity of your malocclusions. Mild misalignments are repaired with clear plastic aligners that are removed from the mouth while you are eating food, drinking beverages or brushing your teeth. You would wear up to 30 different sets of Invisalign aligners that are made to shift your teeth gently into the correct positions.

Visit Our Orthodontic Facility In Ohio

However, when you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, you probably have moderate to severe malocclusions that will require some type of braces. Today, it is possible to wear traditional metal brackets or wires, but there are also braces made with color-matching brackets and clear wires. When you don’t want anyone seeing your brackets and wires, you can have lingual devices that are placed on the backs of your teeth. In addition, you may need to have the roof of your mouth expanded with a metal palatal expander, or you might need to wear headgear to apply pressure to some of your teeth. Headgear is typically worn at night or when you are at home so that no one will know that you are using the device to straighten your teeth. If you live in North Royalton, Ohio, then you can visit Papandreas Orthodontics by calling us today at 440-582-8585 to schedule an appointment and learn more about straightening your teeth with Invisalign aligners or braces.