In your body, there are around 360 joints where bones and cartilage meet. Each of these joints is critical to your body's ability to operate and move. An injury or a health condition that affects a joint can cause aches, pains, and other symptoms. Joint pain can range from minor aches and pains that interfere with daily activities to severe pain that has a negative impact on your quality of life.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have a problem with your temporomandibular joints (TMJs):
- Aching or pain in your jaw
- You feel pain near your ear
- You have difficulty opening or closing your jaws
- When you chew, you hear clicking or popping sounds
- You have persistent neck or upper back pain
Consult your Dentist Parker or doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Discover how a dentist can help if you have a joint disorder by reading on.
Temporomandibular joints (TMJs): What Are They?
There are two joints between your lower jaw and your upper jaw and skull. Temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are responsible for the movement of the jaw. While eating, speaking, or yawning, these muscles assist in moving your jaw. Jaw pain near the ear is a common symptom of TMJ disorders.
The jaw can become ill when its usual function is restricted due to TMJ disorders (sometimes referred to as TMD or TMJD). You may experience pain in your jaw, ears, or other parts of your face, as well as unusual sounds coming from the joints or changes in the way your teeth fit together.
What causes TMJD?
The condition is caused by a variety of factors. In some cases, there may be multiple causes, or the cause may be unknown. Your dentist or other health professional will be able to recommend appropriate treatments if the likely cause is known.
A TMJD can develop if you already have osteoarthritis, bursitis, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis, or if you grind your teeth or clench your jaw while you're sleeping, stressed, or concentrating (a condition called bruxism).
An injury to your jaw or joint, or after getting dentures, a crown, or a filling may also cause TMJD. In addition to x-rays, CTs or MRIs, your dentist may take a physical examination of the joint as well as a physical examination of your soft and hard tissues.
What are the options for treating jaw pain?
Jaw pain, for example, can be treated at home by resting the joint as much as possible, applying ice or a cold compress, or taking over-the-counter pain relievers. However, any symptoms or treatments should be discussed with a dentist or medical expert first.
If you have TMJ issues, you should avoid hard or chewy foods, chop meals into bite-size pieces, and avoid opening your mouth wide, such as when you yawn. Your dentist may also recommend frequent jaw exercises to help strengthen the joints and muscles in your jaw.
If the difficulties persist, your dentist may suggest long-term rehabilitation methods or refer you to a specialist. Knowing what's causing your TMJ problem or other joint disorder might help you build a treatment strategy that works.
If your TMJD is caused by an uneven bite, your dentist may offer orthodontics to help align your jaws properly. Other options include dental treatments such as crown lengthening or shortening to improve the fit of your teeth.
Some TMJ problems are caused by teeth clenching and tension, thus relaxation exercises or counselling services may be beneficial. If you grind or clench your teeth while sleeping, your dentist may prescribe that you wear a bespoke mouthguard at night.
What can I do to help prevent jaw pain?
Although joint disorders like TMJD cannot always be avoided, several lifestyle adjustments might help you reduce your risk of getting them.
You can, for example:
- Use stress management practises to try to control your stress levels.
- Make an effort to maintain proper posture.
- By not chewing gum or biting your nails, you can avoid overworking your joints.
- Identify and manage habits such as teeth grinding or clenching.
Your healthcare professional can assist you in managing these issues if you're unsure where to begin.
Last, but not least, keeping up with regular dental visits increases your dentist's ability to spot problems at an early stage. Contact our Dental Office Parker CO to schedule an appointment.