If your tooth started to hurt, you could probably guess at least a couple of reasons why, and be fairly accurate with your guess. However, jaw pain isn’t as common as a toothache, and given the complexity of your jaw’s joints, muscles, and other structures, it isn’t always easy to guess what the problem is. Depending on the specific symptoms, you might not even realize the issue is an oral health problem to begin with. For many people, chronic jaw pain means that one or both of their jaw joints, or TMJs, have become dysfunctional. Today, we examine what you should know about TMJ disorder if you experience chronic jaw pain, and why it may also be the cause of several other aches and pains.
What TMJ disorder means, specifically
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, and the disorder related to it can describe a problem in one or both of the TMJs on either side of your jaw. These joints are responsible for your lower jaw’s wide range of movement when you bite, chew, and speak. When they’re dysfunctional, they can negatively impact several other aspects of your oral health and bite function as a result. The challenge with addressing TMJ disorder is that it could mean different, specific conditions for different people, including damage to the joint, inflammation in or around the joint, a misalignment caused by injury, or more.
Why you might have developed it
Much like the specific details about your TMJ disorder, your risks of having one can also be highly unique to the state of your dental health. For example, TMJs can often be damaged or become inflamed due to excessive amounts of pressure being placed on the joints. This can occur if your teeth are misaligned and your jaw has to compensate every time you bite, chew, and speak. Or, it can result from a habit of constantly grinding your teeth together, a condition known as bruxism and that is often closely related to TMJ disorder. If you exhibit these or other risk factors, then it’s a higher probability that any discomfort you feel in your jaw is the result of developing TMJ disorder.
Why more than just your jaw hurts
When you develop a TMJ disorder, the strain on your jaw joints and muscles may be the biggest source of discomfort. Yet, jaw pain isn’t always the dominant symptom, or even one of the early symptoms. Disruption to your jaw joints and function can also disturb the group of nerves that pass closely by them, known as the trigeminal nerve group. These nerves traverse most of your head, neck, and face, and when they’re disturbed, the pain can radiate throughout several other areas. Because of this, common symptoms of TMJ disorder can also include chronic headaches and migraines, earaches and ringing in your ears, sore muscles in your neck and shoulders, and more.
Learn how to relieve TMJ and jaw pain
If your jaw hurts constantly, it may be the result of a problem with your TMJs and their ability to function properly. To learn more, schedule a consultation by calling the Dental Centre of Conroe in Conroe, TX, today at (936) 441-4600. We serve patients from Conroe and all neighboring communities.