Sometimes patients believe the pain they are experiencing is due to a tooth problem, when in reality it may be associated with muscle spasms of the face/jaw.
Migraine-like symptoms can be experienced.
Sometimes the pain is felt in other areas such as the forehead, above or behind the eyes, in the neck muscles, under the base of our skull.
Jaw problems may be caused by excessive grinding and or clenching of teeth during sleep. Stressful moments in life can lead to tooth grinding/clenching.
Jaw joint pain may be the result from a simple act of yawning, opening too wide or a direct injury to the jaw, and possibly from a dental event such as wisdom tooth removal or a long dental visit where the mouth has been opened for prolonged periods.
- Inability to open wide
- Clicking sounds in the jaw joint
- Locking of the jaw joint, these are easily visualised during an examination
- Palpate the facial muscles, to find “knots’ associated with “hardenedmuscles” These muscles are tender when we further apply pressure.
- Teeth pain is generally more specific to a tooth and rarely extends into the jaws (unless the tooth nerve is dying as is the case with severe toothaches)
- General dental examination including x rays to eliminate teeth as the cause of the discomfort
In mild cases
- Resting of the jaw is necessary. This includes avoiding hard , chewy foods that is likely to place undue stress to the jaw joint.
- Applying a heat-pack to the jaw helps with circulation.
Massage to the affected areas
Mild to Moderate cases
- Wearing a dental splint to protect the jaw joint
Chronic jaw problems sometimes create more problems such as severe tooth wear. The patient does not realise that teeth become shorter over time.
- Management of short teeth is very involved and expensive if many teeth require treatment.
- Prolonged jaw pain can lead to “migraine-like” symptoms that affect daily duties.
- Lack of sleep, tiredness and general lethargy, body weakness