What Is Causing My Jaw Pain?
Sometimes temporary and occasional jaw pain may just be the result of grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw during sleep, which is not uncommon during times of stress or a bad dream. But chronic (long-term) or recurring jaw pain can also be a sign of oral health problems like tooth decay or gum disease, or temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which results from an injury or damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Dr. Ralph Mazzuca, a dentist in Washington, D.C., offers diagnostic and treatment options to treat and offer relief from TMJ symptoms.
TMJ Diagnosis and Treatment in Washington, D.C.
The temporomandibular joint connects the upper and lower jaw to the skull and plays an important role in the mechanical movements that allow you to chew and open and close your mouth. A problem with the joint can cause pain, stiffness, and even cause the law to "lock" in the open or closed position in more severe cases. The most common symptoms of TMJ/TMD are:
- Pain and/or tenderness around the jaw or joint
- Headache/facial/ear aches and pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Clicking or locking when opening or closing the mouth
Identifying a direct cause for TMJ/TMD can be difficult, but there are a few factors that can increase the risk of developing symptoms:
- Direct damage to the joint or jaw caused by direct trauma or injury
- Injuries or disorders that affect the cartilage or soft tissue in the joint
- Mechanical damage to the joint from prolonged teeth grinding or clenching
You may experience TMD in one or both joints, and the treatment options for TMJ vary depending on the severity of joint damage and your symptoms. In some cases, mild forms of TMJ may clear up on their own or respond to conservative treatment with over the counter pain relievers or prescription medication. Dentists also prescribe physical therapy, oral appliances or lifestyle changes and modifications to help ease jaw pain. In cases of extreme joint damage or if conservative treatments fail, surgery is sometimes used to repair severe damage to the joint.
Find a Dentist in Washington, D.C.
Don't wait to find relief from jaw pain and discomfort. For more information on the diagnostic and treatment options available for your TMJ symptoms, contact our office by calling (202) 537-1088 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mazzuca today.