Pain associated with your head and neck and the inability to properly move your jaw are common, but concerning symptoms. They can range from simple fixes to requiring more complex treatments. Jaw pain, commonly known as “TMJ”, but more correctly called TMD or Temporomandibular Disorder can be very frustrating to experience and treat, depending on the circumstances.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
- Headache / Migraine
- Jaw joint pain
- Ear congestion
- Loose teeth
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty swallowing
- Limited mouth opening
- Sleep apnea
- Eye pain, ear pain
- Jaw joint clicking or popping
- Chewing difficulties
- Clenching or grinding
- Postural problem - neck, back pain
- Nervousness or insomnia
- Hot- and cold-sensitive teeth
- Tingling of the fingers
- Facial pain
How Can All Of These Symptoms Be Related To The Teeth And Bite?
The lower jaw has two joints or Temporomandibular Joints (TMJs). The TMJ has a condyle of the head that rests in a depression right in front of both ears. If you put your fingers in front of your ears and open and close you will feel the joints moving down and forward as you open. The lower jaw is held in place by the joint and ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
Misalignment of your bite caused by acute trauma or long-term “bad bite” the soft tissues around the joint can be compressed and inflamed.
This TMJ pain can cause symptoms of ear pain as the complex nerves and delicate muscles are out of balance, sending pain to the neck, shoulders, and back. This is known as referred pain.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
The temporomandibular joint combines a hinge action with sliding motions. The parts of the bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk, which normally keeps the movement smooth. Painful TMJ disorders can occur if:
- The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment
- The joint's cartilage is damaged by arthritis
- The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact
In a lot of cases, the actual root cause of the TMJ disorder isn't discernable. Some risk factors for developing the disease include various types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, jaw injury, chronic grinding of teeth, and connective tissue disease.
Treating TMJ Facial Pain
The approach to treating TMJ pain at Harker Chan is based on psychology. An important factor is whether this pain has flared up suddenly and is acute or if you are experiencing long-term chronic pain. You have two choices to consider – treat the pain and mask the symptoms or treat the underlying factors causing the pain.