From time to time, we all have fleeting pains that seem to come and go without warning, leaving us surprised and perplexed. But the important thing in these incidents is the fact that the pain doesn’t linger or return frequently. Pain that returns frequently, however, can be a symptom of a deeper problem.
Frequent Pain Can Be a Warning of an Underlying Problem
Do you experience any of the following symptoms?
- Pain or trouble chewing
- Aches and pains in your face
- Aches in and around your ears
- Jaw joint pain
All of these could be symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
A Long Word for an Important Joint
The temporomandibular joints connect our skull to each side of our jaw bone. They are super-hinges because they move side to side, back and forth, and up and down — motions necessary for us to chew our food, open and close our mouths, and complete other functions. When these joints or the muscles that operate them have pain, we refer to that as temporomandibular joint disorder. It may be difficult to diagnose the cause of the pain because it can manifest as a result of genetics, jaw injuries, and even bad habits like grinding or clenching your teeth.
Causes of TMJ From Use
Because the TMJ is made of bones and cartilage that slide to operate, they are subject to wear and tear. Some deterioration can occur when:
- The small shock-absorbing disk in the joint erodes from use
- The disk becomes misaligned
- Cartilage in the joint deteriorates as a result of arthritis
- The joint suffers injury from a fall or other impact
Outside Contributors to the Development of TMD
Injuries to the jaw, a connective tissue disease, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, and habitual clenching or grinding of our teeth all have been associated with a higher risk of developing TMD.
What Can Be Done to Provide Relief?
There are relaxation exercises and other therapies, as well as pain relievers and muscle relaxants, that may bring you comfort. Often, physical therapy with ultrasound or moist heat and ice can bring relief. When needed, there are more extensive treatments available. Each case of TMD is unique to the individual and requires careful diagnosis of symptoms to determine the proper treatment. While not normally an emergency, it goes without saying that if you find you cannot close your jaws together completely, or you have persistent pain, you should consult us right away.
At Friendly Family Dentistry we are ready to answer your concerns about your facial and jaw pain. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation so we can help you step onto the road to recovery. We proudly serve Terre Haute, Indiana, and the surrounding area.