Do you experience pain and discomfort when you open or close your mouth, chew, or talk? Or do you hear popping or clicking sounds in your jaw?
You may be among the millions worldwide suffering from a common jaw disorder known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD). TMJ affects a significant portion of the population in the United States, ranging between approximately 5% and 12%. The condition is more prevalent among younger individuals, especially women.
Understanding the underlying causes, symptoms, and treatment options for common jaw disorders is essential, so let’s dig into every detail you need to know about this painful condition.
Table of Contents
What are the Common Jaw Disorders?
Jaw disorders are conditions that affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is located on both sides of your face, just in front of your ears, that connects your jawbone to the skull.
These common jaw disorders can cause distress and pain, affecting a person’s ability to perform regular activities such as chewing, speaking, and even sleeping.
TMJ dysfunction occurs when the ligaments and muscles surrounding your jaw joints are inflamed or irritated, leading to a chronic or acute condition, causing mild to severe discomfort.
Signs & Symptoms of Common Jaw Disorders
The symptoms of common jaw disorders may vary from person to person, but some usual ones include:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw, face, or ear area- This is a frequent symptom of common jaw disorders caused by inflammation or injury to the jaw joint or surrounding muscles.
- Difficulty or pain when opening or closing the mouth- Jaw disorders can make it difficult or painful to move the jaw, making eating, speaking, and yawning uncomfortable.
- Popping or clicking sounds during mouth movement (Opening or Closing)- This sound can be caused by the displacement of the disc in the jaw joint, which can be a sign of an underlying jaw disorder.
- Headaches- Jaw pain and tension can trigger headaches and migraines, especially if the pain radiates to the temple or neck.
- Earaches- Jaw disorders can cause referred pain to the ear, making it feel like an earache.
- Neck and shoulder pain- Tension in the jaw muscles can cause discomfort in the neck and shoulders, and vice versa.
- Dizziness- In some cases, jaw disorders can cause dizziness or vertigo, resulting from referred pain or tension in the neck muscles.
- The tiredness of the jaw muscles- Chronic jaw tension and pain can cause fatigue in the jaw muscles, which can be especially noticeable after speaking or chewing for prolonged periods.
If you are encountering any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Underlying Causes of Common Jaw Disorders
Did you know that there are several reasons why someone might experience jaw disorders? Some of the few possible causes include infections, injuries, cancer, inflammation, and even genetic or congenital disabilities.
Several other factors can also contribute to jaw disorders, including:
Teeth grinding or bruxism is one of the causes leading to common jaw disorders. The practice of grinding or clenching the teeth, often unconsciously, exerts pressure on the jaw joint, leading to pain and discomfort.
Injury or trauma to the jaw can cause misalignment or dislocation of the joint, leading to various common jaw disorders that result in pain and discomfort.
Further, this can also damage the muscles and ligaments surrounding the joint, causing inflammation and difficulty with jaw movements. Seeking medical attention is essential to prevent the development of jaw disorders.
Arthritis is a chronic condition that causes joint inflammation, including TMJ leading to significant pain and difficulty with jaw movements, affecting daily activities.
Early intervention is essential to manage symptoms and prevent further impairment of the joint.
You may experience tension in the muscles surrounding the jaw joint when stressed. This tension can cause pain and discomfort, leading to common jaw disorders if left unaddressed.
Stress-related tension in the jaw muscles can also cause teeth grinding or clenching. It can further aggravate jaw pain and discomfort and cause damage to the teeth.
Diagnostic Evaluation of Common Jaw Disorders
When diagnosing common jaw disorders like TMJ dysfunction, your dental expert may typically perform an oral checkup that involves the following steps:
- Observing the range of motion when you open and close your mouth: This helps the healthcare provider evaluate if there is any difficulty or pain in the jaw joint.
- Pressing on your face and jaw to determine areas of discomfort: This can help identify the areas where you are experiencing pain or discomfort.
- Sensations around your jaw joints as you open and close your mouth: This can help detect any abnormalities, such as popping or clicking sounds, in the movement of your jaw joint.
So, Is This It?
Dental professionals may also utilize radiographs, commonly known as X-rays, to further evaluate the extent of the damage.
These radiographs may include the following:
- Panoramic X-rays: This type of dental X-ray provides a broad synopsis of your jawbone, teeth, and TMJs, giving the healthcare provider a better understanding of the overall condition of your jaw.
- CBCT scans: Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) scans use thousands of images to create a 3D image of your jaw, teeth, facial bones, and sinuses. These scans can provide a more detailed view of your facial anatomy than traditional X-rays.
- MRI scans: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used for viewing the soft tissues in and around the jaw joints. These images show the position of the disk, possible jaw locking, and inflammation, helping your oral healthcare providers determine if the TMJ disc is functioning correctly and in good condition.
By performing these diagnostic procedures and utilizing radiographs during a dental checkup, dental surgeons can understand the extent of damage caused and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Treatment Options for Common Jaw Disorders
The treatment of jaw disorders depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause.
Some treatment options include:
Making lifestyle changes such as avoiding hard or chewy foods, avoiding caffeine, and reducing stress can help alleviate jaw pain and discomfort.
Pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with jaw disorders.
Physical therapy, such as massage of the jaw muscles and stretching, can help relieve tension and improve jaw mobility.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged joint structures.
Steps to Improve Your Common Jaw Disorders
Apart from clinging to the instructions given by your oral healthcare provider and taking all prescribed meds, you can alleviate the symptoms of jaw conditions by:
- Avoiding chewing gum.
- Using cold or hot packs to relieve discomfort.
- Cutting food into small pieces.
- Eating soft foods.
- Avoiding sticky or chewy food.
- Learning relaxation techniques.
Alleviate Common Jaw Disorders with Anoka Dental Today!
Jaw disorders can cause significant pain and discomfort, affecting a person’s quality of life. However, with the proper treatment, people can manage their symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.
If you experience any symptoms of common jaw disorders, we are here to help prevent further complications. Considering your aesthetic and financial needs, we design treatment plans at the Anoka Dental Clinic. Kickstart your journey towards rapidly alleviating common jaw disorders. Call us at (763) 421-4002 or complete our appointment request form now!