Why You Shouldn't Ignore Recurrent Jaw Pain

Why You Shouldn't Ignore Recurrent Jaw Pain

Approximately 30-40% of Americans suffer from chronic orofacial pain — including pain in one or both sides of their jaws. Pain or dysfunction in one or both temporomandibular joints (TMJs) — the hinges that connect your jawbone to your skull — tends to worsen over time.

Even though you may not feel that your TMJ pain is worth bothering about, it’s a sign that your jaw doesn’t function the way it should. An unhealthy jaw can affect many different aspects of your well-being and health. 

At Westbrook Dental Center, our expert dental team, led by Johnny Smith, D.M.D, treat TMJ disorders and dental issues. If you live or work near our Peoria, Arizona, offices, here’s what you should know about chronic jaw pain caused by TMJ disorders … and how to treat it. 

Why do I have chronic TMJ pain?

You open your mouth to yawn, speak, and eat hundreds or thousands of times a day. Each opening and closing puts stress on your TMJs. If you’ve suffered a head injury or have a misaligned bite (i.e., malocclusion), the pressure may be uneven and therefore stress one side of your jaw more than the other.

TMJ disorders can cause significant pain and discomfort in your jaw. They may also affect the muscles and tendons surrounding your jaw, stressing and weakening them. There are many reasons you can develop TMJ pain, such as dislocation, injury, arthritis, tooth and jaw misalignment, and teeth grinding

What are the symptoms of TMJ disorder?

Chronic jaw pain and symptoms due to TMJ vary between individuals. But we tend to see some signs and symptoms more frequently. These include: 

If you have a TMJ disorder and jaw pain, you may also clench or grind your teeth (bruxism), experience tension or muscle spasms in your jaw, have neck and shoulder tension, and experience a crunching sound or feeling in the TMJ. 

Why should I treat jaw pain?

If you have symptoms of TMJ, you should discuss your symptoms with Dr. Smith as soon as possible. Ignoring jaw pain can make TMJ worse and even compromise your ability to swallow, chew, speak, control facial muscles, and even breathe.

The underlying cause of TMJ is often related to teeth and alignment issues. Dr. Smith provides experience and expertise in resolving structural issues before they get worse and alleviating your pain. 

How do I treat my jaw pain?

The first step in finding relief for your jaw pain is to determine the cause or causes underlying your TMJ disorder. Once we understand what’s causing your TMJ, our team creates a customized treatment plan for you. 

Dr. Smith usually starts with conservative TMJ treatments. Conservative treatments usually work well enough to help end jaw pain. Some treatment modalities we may recommend:

Dr. Smith also educates you about changing behaviors that can increase your jaw pain and TMJ symptoms, such as teeth grinding or biting your nails. If he determines that an underlying structural problem is to blame for your TMJ, he may recommend surgical interventions to resolve your pain. 

If you have jaw pain, don’t ignore it any longer. Treating TMJ as soon as possible means faster, more effective pain relief and less risk for complications. Contact us by calling our Peoria office or booking an appointment online. 

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