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Jaw Pain Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be, Part 1

If you or a loved one have jaw pain on a regular basis but aren’t sure what’s causing it, then we want to focus today’s blog article on you! Dr. Brooks and everyone here at Anderson Dental Care will give you some clues as to what might be going on and how it can be fixed. We’ll talk about two causes of jaw pain, problems that can result from these causes – like cracked teeth – and help you see that you don’t have to put up the pain any more.

Symptoms

We see many patients who have jaw pain frequently combined with other issues. Think about whether any of the following apply to you:

  • chronic headaches and migraines
  • neck, face, or shoulder pain
  • teeth sensitivity
  • grinding or clenching of your teeth, especially at night or when stressed
  • earaches and/or ringing in ears
  • trouble opening mouth, especially when eating or talking
  • clicking or popping in your jaw
  • tiredness in your face or jaw
  • swelling in jaw
  • Causes

    So, how do all these symptoms relate to jaw pain? What could be causing your pain and all these other things? The truth is, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to pinpointing a specific cause, but doctors typically use these symptoms to diagnose TMJ dysfunction and/or bruxism. TMJ dysfunction, or TMD, is a problem with your temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects your jaw to your skull and helps you move your jaw for eating and so on. That joint is known as your TMJ, which a lot of people actually think is the name of the condition.

    The following are major contributing factors for TMJ dysfunction:

  • bruxism: Often, grinding or clenching teeth (known as bruxism) can cause the jaw pain; bruxism can be made worse by stress that causes you to grind or clench your teeth. Bruxism can exist alone without TMD.
  • arthritis: Systemic joint problems can cause pain in your jaw, too.
  • structural issue: If you have any structural problems with your TMJ, it could result in pain.
  • bite issues: A bad bite can put stress on your jaw because your jaw is constantly overcompensating to align itself when you eat, talk, yawn, and more. A bad bite can be just from the way your mouth or jaw is shaped, or from old or faulty restorations that make eating and speaking more difficult.
  • injury: If you’ve been injured in or near your jaw, or have even had whiplash, you might develop TMJ pain.
  • It’s unsure why, but women, especially those in their 20s-40s, are more prone to these conditions, according to Mayo Clinic.

    Problems

    Aside from all those symptoms that can go along with TMD or bruxism, you might have noticed some dental problems that your bruxism has caused:

  • cracked teeth: With all that grinding in your teeth, you can start to actually do damage to the tooth itself. If you’ve noticed tooth pain along with your jaw pain, you might have CTS, or Cracked Tooth Syndrome. These cracks can start out small but grow worse over time, even leading to broken teeth.
  • damaged restorations: For the same reason your natural teeth can become cracked, your restorations can also start to suffer. This is especially true for your back teeth. So if you have a dental crown that’s starting to crack, TMD and/or bruxism could be to blame.
  • Jaw pain isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! And in fact, it can even crack your teeth! Don’t let this happen! Stick around for our next blog article to find out solutions for your jaw pain, and contact us for an appointment in the meantime if you want your pain to go away.

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