Poway and Rancho Bernardo, CA
Do you ever experience jaw pain at random, or when you open your jaw to eat, laugh, or brush your teeth? If you do, don’t ignore it! The pain may be intermittent at first, but eventually gets worse and occurs more frequent. Read on to learn how neuromuscular dentist in Poway, Dr. Nicol Cook, shares the surprising reason behind jaw pain, and what can be done about it.
Jaw pain isn’t all in your head
When jaw pain occurs every so often, you may think it is because of sore jaw muscles, or maybe you haphazardly opened your mouth too wide, or perhaps you have even been told that the pain is all in your head. We want to assure you that jaw pain happens for a reason, and it could indicate one of several issues, including a malfunction of the jaw joints known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, sinus problems, or that you clench and grind your teeth. Regardless, your jaw shouldn’t hurt for no reason at all, there always is a cause behind the pain.
Jaw pain and TMJ disorder
TMJ disorder affects people of all ages, and pain associated with this disorder can be mild, especially in the beginning, but may progress into severe pain that occurs frequently or that never goes away. In these severe cases, TMJ-related pain may be debilitating, causing frequent headaches, neck and shoulder pain, as well as eye pain, ringing in the ears, snoring while sleeping, and broken or damaged teeth. Since the symptoms of TMJ disorder are so far-reaching, many physicians may overlook the underlying cause of a patient’s pain, and diagnose the problem as something else. Ultimately, in these cases, the patient ends up only masking their pain with medication, not actually receiving treatment for the underlying cause – the jaw joint malfunction.
Jaw pain is one of the first signals of temporomandibular joint malfunction. If the bite is uneven, either by missing or damaged teeth, it can change how the jaw joints align. Even a seemingly insignificant misalignment can be felt in the jaw joints over time. As the misalignment is ignored, the muscles of the jaw begin to tense, blood flow may be decreased, and the nerves running through the jaw joints are affected, initiating a chain reaction of pain that may radiate to the head, neck, and shoulders.
Sinus problems could cause jaw pain
Sinus problems related to colds or allergies can cause jaw pain. If your jaw pain seems to occur only when you have a cold or your allergies have flared up, the pain could be related to one of these occurrences. However, be sure to notice how often and when you experience pain in your jaws. Clogged sinuses, as a result of sickness or allergies, create a significant amount of pressure that can cause facial pain, and even pain in the jaw. It is always best, however, to have your jaw pain assessed by a TMJ dentist in Poway to be certain of what is causing you discomfort.
Clenching and grinding your teeth is referred to as bruxism. This usually occurs during sleep, but can be experienced during awake periods as well. Bruxism puts strain and stress on the jaw joints and can result in orofacial pain, or pain throughout the face and jaw. You may not know that you clench and grind your teeth since it mostly happens while sleeping, but Dr. Cook can tell by a simple examination. If you think that you have bruxism, it’s best to get it checked, because it could signal a problem with your jaw joints.
Relief from jaw pain in Poway
If you experience jaw pain to any degree, it is best to have it evaluated by a TMJ specialist in Poway such as Dr. Cook. A thorough consultation will determine if you do, and Dr. Cook can recommend the best course of treatment to help you live a pain-free life!
If you would like to learn more about TMJ disorder, how Dr. Cook treats it, or to schedule a consultation, please call (858) 673-0141 or contact Smiles by Dr. Cook today. We welcome patients of Poway and Rancho Bernardo, California.