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