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What Causes Jaw Pain

The jaw joint, medically referred to as the temporomandibular joint or TMJ, is made up of the bone below the mouth (the mandible, commonly referred to as the jawbone) and the bone just above the mouth (the maxilla). The TMJ allows the upper jaw to close on the lower jaw and is one of the most frequently used joints of the body.


The temporomandibular joints are complex structures that connect your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, and contain muscles, tendons, and bones. Injury to or disorders of these structures can all result in pain in the jaw area.  Jaw pain may occur on one side or on both sides, depending upon the cause. One of the major causes of jaw pain is grinding of teeth or clenching teeth. Damage to the Ball and socket joint tissue and ligaments in the joint, stress which can cause tightening of jaw muscles, leading to clenching of teeth are some of the other causes for Jaw pain.


Jaw Pain often causes severe pain and discomfort. It is common among people between the age of 20 and 40.  The common symptoms for TMJ disorder are pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint, neck and shoulders, in and around the ear, difficulty in opening your mouth, jaws getting stuck in open or close position, clicking or popping sound while closing and opening the mouth, swelling or trouble chewing food, etc..


Depending upon the exact cause, the pain may occur when chewing or may occur at rest. Additionally, other medical conditions not related to the TMJ may cause perceived pain in the jaw area. One of the most characteristic of these is the pain associated with coronary artery disease (angina) or heart attack, which typically occurs in the chest but can radiate (spread) to the jaw area. Some kinds of arthritis, often osteoarthritis, can affect the TMJ and lead to pain when moving the joint.


The most common treatment for TMJ issues involves, medications prescribed by your dentist, night guard or splint, or dental work to adjust and correct bite issues of your teeth.


Some in-home treatment options for jaw pain include taking over the counter medication, using cold and heat packs, eating soft food, relaxation therapy to relax the jaw and mouth, avoiding aggressive jaw movements etc…


Dr. Jacob may advise other treatments like Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Simulation (TENS), Trigger point injections, laser therapy, radio wave therapy or ultrasound treatment to ease and relieve pain. For severe cases surgical procedures like Arthroscopy, open-joint surgery on Jaw joints could be performed to correct TMJ disorders.

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