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Jaw Joint Pain

Coquitlam’s Altitude Dental Can Help

Jaw joint pain is often a symptom of Temporomandibular Disorders or TMD. It occurs as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint, and surrounding facial muscles that control jaw movement, such as chewing, speaking, and moving the jaw.  These disorders are often called TMJ, for the temporomandibular joint area (where the lower and upper jaw bone intersect).   Dr. Vaida of Altitude Dental can assess the pain in jaw or jaw joint, find the cause of the problem, and provide you with a program for TMJ relief.

What causes TMD?

There are many underlying causes of TMD or TMJ, such as:

  • Injury to the jaw.
  • Injury to the Temporomandibular joint.
  • Injury to the muscles of the head and neck (whiplash or a heavy blow).
  • Regular and frequent teeth grinding or clenching of the teeth, placing excess pressure on the jaw joint.
  • Dislocation of the cartilage disc in the jaw joint.
  • Medical conditions, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Stressful lifestyles. (This may cause a person to grind or clench their teeth.)

How to treat TMD and provide TMJ relief?

Most often we will recommend the use of a night guard. A night guard allows your jaw joint to rest for an extended time duration, which minimizes the pain in jaw. It is usually worn as you sleep but the dental night guard can also be worn during the day. Other treatments include physiotherapy and acupuncture and even massage therapy (to reduce stress, and minimize teeth grinding or clenching).

In most cases, once the inflammation of the jaw decreases so does the symptoms and any related jaw joint pain. Some patients find that they need to wear their night guard every night, while others find that they use their night guard during times of stress.

What are the Symptoms of TMD?

  • Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide and for longer periods of time (for example, when you open your mouth during a dental exam);
  • Limited ability to open the mouth very wide;
  • Jaws that get "stuck" or "lock" in the open- or closed-mouth position;
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth (which may or may not be accompanied by pain);
  • A tired feeling in the face;
  • Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite -- as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly;
  • Swelling on the side of the face;
  • An ear ache that moves from the jaw to the ear – the jaw joint swelling puts pressure on the ear canal.

Other common symptoms of TMD include toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, and hearing problems.

If you have symptoms of TMD or jaw joint pain, please contact our office for a dental appointment with Dr. Vaida at Coquitlam’s Altitude Dental.

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