Experiencing Jaw Pain: Could it be TMJ?

best dentists in Dallas CountyThe source of jaw pain can be due to many things … deep rooted dental decay; infection; teeth grinding and clenching; an ear infection; a drug interaction … or it could be TMJ (temporomandibular joint) inflammation. The best dentists will look at your history, record all drugs taken in the past and present, take dental x-rays, and ask questions regarding your stress levels and sleep habits.

The temporomandibular joint is located on each side of the jaw just in front of the ears. This joint manages the mouth/teeth/jaw movement up and down, back and forth, and side to side. An inflammation of these joints can occur leading to pain in the jaw (and possibly also in the neck, ear, and head).

TMJ quite often is due to the grinding and clenching of teeth. Individuals that have stressful jobs may keep their cool throughout the day, but the stress may manifest itself during periods of sleep. This most often occurs subconsciously, and unless the patient has a partner that hears the teeth grinding, this habit can go on undiagnosed until your next visit with your dentist.

When a patient grinds their teeth habitually, this is very evident to your dental provider. Over time, dental enamel begins to wears down. The dentist may be able to even up your bite leading to a temporary resolution. But unless you resolve whatever is causing you to grind and clench during the night, any relief will be temporary.

Many patients that experience grinding during the night soon might find they’re doing the same throughout daytime hours as well. One thing the patient can do to help manage the teeth grinding is to have your dentist customize a mouth guard to wear during sleeping hours.

The mouth guard that is fabricated for you will fit your specific needs. It will be the correct size, made of the best material, and if worn consistently, will aid in grinding.

There are many generic mouth guards available online or at the drugstore. Keep in mind that the one size fits all formula will not afford you the same comfort and fit as one made especially for you by your dentist.

Any kind of oral discomfort should be checked out by your dental provider; finding a solution may be as easy as an adjustment or being fit for a customized mouth guard.