Jaw pain, along with a number of other symptoms such as radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck, jaw muscle stiffness, limited movement or locking of the jaw, painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth and a change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together could be a sign of TMJ disorder.
What is TMJ disorder?
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is pain and dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw and joints which connect the lower jaw to the skull. People who suffer from TMJ will experience pain, restricted movement and joint noise during any movement of the jaw.
Can my dentist fix jaw pain?
There are a few different methods dentists use to treat TMJ once it has been diagnosed.
Appliance Therapy (Splint or Mouth Guard)
Typically the first line of treatment provided by your dentist will be the use of a splint. The TMJ splint is worn to reduce stress on the jaw, allow the muscles to function optimally and/or to cover the deflective interferences affecting the bite so that the lower jaw can be repositioned into the socket properly. If a splint helps relieve the pain, it is possible that your bite or parafunction was causing the problem.
Many TMJ cases can be corrected with occlusal equilibration which involves selective reshaping of the biting surfaces of the teeth and is often the best choice for eliminating deflective interferences so that the jaw can close properly.
Once the lower jaw is able to close properly into position within the temporomandibular socket, your pain may be relieved immediately. Pain relief typically is achieved when the muscles are able to function properly.