Jaw Pain (TMJ)

Jaw pain can affect your daily life from activities such as chewing, talking, or yawning. 

TMJ Disorder 

The most common cause for jaw pain is temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ which are disorders of the jaw joints and muscles. TMD may be caused by injuries to the jaw, arthritis, or genetics. TMD affects up to 12% of the population. 

Other Causes of Jaw Pain

  • Sleep Disordered Breathing
    • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
    • Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)
  • Teeth grinding, clenching
  • Tension/cluster headaches
  • Stress

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

  • A pain that aches in or around your ear.
  • Facial pain that aches.
  • Muscle soreness of the face, head and neck
  • Tenderness in your jaw.
  • Difficulty or pain when you chew.
  • Your joints lock.
  • Clicking or grating sound when opening, closing and/or chewing. 
  • Misalignment of your upper and lower jaw.

Jaw Pain Screening

Dr. Lepore may ask you questions such as:

  • When did you notice your symptoms?
  • Is this a new or recurring issue?
  • Do you suffer from head or neck-aches?
  • Do you wake up wishing you felt more well-rested?
  • How would you rate your stress levels?

In addition to these questions, Dr. Lepore will also do a thorough evaluation on your TMJs, the muscles of your head and neck and perform an intraoral exam to see if there are any contributing factors. 

While some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can reduce swelling and discomfort, Dr. Lepore recommends a thorough exam is performed before self-medicating.

Jaw Pain Treatment Options

Depending on your unique symptoms, treatment can vary significantly. Some suggestions might include:

  • Self-Care Regimen – if appropriate, conservative therapy such as resting your jaw, keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating, eating soft foods, applying ice and heat, exercising your jaw, and practicing good posture, can be helpful.
  • Muscle Spasm Relief Regimen – This is usually accomplished with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxant.

Occlusal Guard – Also known as a nightguard, these can be made of a material that is either soft, hard or a combination of the two. It can cover all the teeth or only some of them, depending on your needs. It can be made for your upper teeth or your lower teeth. It is worn nightly and helps to relieve stress on the joints, but particularly the muscles.

Home Sleep Test – Should Dr. Lepore notice signs during screening of sleep disordered breathing, he may recommend a home sleep test to rule out a sleep disorder. It has been shown that obstructed sleep can cause clenching/grinding and subsequent muscle/TMJ pain. Click here to learn more about the home sleep test: https://sleeptest.com/

Dr. Ryan Lepore - Home Sleep Apnea Testing

  • Sleep Appliance Therapy – If a diagnosis is obtained either from a Home Sleep Test or Polysomnography (In-Lab) Study of Sleep Disordered Breathing, an oral appliance can be made as a CPAP alternative should the patient be intolerant to/refuse that therapy.  Click here to learn more: https://prosomnus.com/getting-started/#products
Dr. Ryan Lepore - How an Oral Appliance Can Treats Sleep Apnea

  • Surgical options such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring are sometimes needed but are reserved for severe cases. Typically, this is referred to a specialist known as an Oral Surgeon. More often than not, we do not consider TMJ surgery unless the jaw can’t open, is dislocated and nonreducible, has severe degeneration, or the patient has undergone appliance treatment unsuccessfully

If you are experiencing any of these jaw pain symptoms, give Lepore Comprehensive Dentistry a call to schedule your evaluation in Dunedin, FL today.

Our Dental Savings Plans

Lepore Comprehensive Dentistry believes that everyone should have access to high-quality dental care and that financial constraints or insurance status shouldn’t stand in the way for anyone to receive such care. That’s why we have introduced Dental Savings Plans as we don’t want you to compromise on your dental health. We have two plans – Standard and Wellness - offered at an annual membership fee of $429 and $729 respectively.

Membership will entitle you to a host of benefits including free and discounted treatments with a focus on your overall health.

Review by Marietta Correale

As a person with extreme anxiety (especially at the dentist) I have to say, this is one of the few places I have ever felt comfortable. Well, as comfortable as I can, that is. The staff has always gone out of their way to make sure I was doing okay and never made me feel like I was being ridiculous (even though I usually am). I am greatly appreciative of their patience, humor, and honesty.

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We are your "home" in Dunedin for advanced dentistry and functional dental medicine. Within our inviting, highly personalized concierge environment, our team supports your whole "wellness" - not just the beauty and health of your smile!