Pain in your mouth is not normal, and you should never have to just “deal with it.” When your teeth are the cause of your pain, you could be suffering from tooth decay or gum disease, both of which need to be treated before they progress. But what about pain in your jaw or even headaches and migraines? That could mean you are suffering from TMD or bruxism.
You can move your jaw thanks to your jaw joint. The proper name for this joint is the temporomandibular joint, but because that’s a mouthful, most people shorten it to TMJ. When this joint gets stressed or injured, it doesn’t work correctly and can cause weird noises, jaw pain, and even the inability to fully open or close your mouth. This condition is called temporomandibular disorder, or TMD for short. Because the two acronyms are so similar, people often use TMJ when they mean TMD.
Because this affects your jaw, there are many symptoms related to your jaw and surrounding area. If you are experiencing pain in your jaw, then that’s a probable sign of TMJ/TMD. But so is pain in the neck, upper shoulders, upper back, ears, and face. Your muscles are one big system, so when the muscles in your TMJ get hurt, such pain can migrate to other muscles. This is why TMJ/TMD can also create headaches and migraines.
Another symptom of TMD is unconsciously grinding your teeth. This is called bruxism, and, if not treated, it can wear down the enamel of your teeth and increase your chances of tooth sensitivity and decay. But bruxism can happen all on its own due to stress or any number of factors. And because bruxism can put extra stress on your jaw joint thanks to all of that tension and grinding, it can even help cause TMD problems.
Dr. Cornell can fit you with a special dental device called a Tanner splint. This is a removable plastic device made right here in our Tulsa, OK dental office that you wear over your teeth at night. It shifts your jaw just enough to help prevent teeth grinding and give your jaw joint time to rest and heal. Over time, this can even help keep your jaw in that new position.
Jaw pain can be just muscle soreness, but it could also be a sign of TMD or bruxism. Call us today or email us to schedule your next appointment. We are ready to help relieve your jaw pain for good.