Everyone experiences jaw pain from time-to-time, but the cause and subsequent treatment ranges from ibuprofen to surgery. But how do you know if that discomfort in your jaw is from sleeping in an awkward position or if it’s symptomatic of deeper issues?
Any time you experience oral pain, a visit to the dentist’s office should be in order, but many will let the problem persist, expecting it to self correct eventually. In fact, studies have shown that as much as 60% of the US population have experienced temporomandibular disorder (TMD) symptoms, but only a fraction of these people will seek treatment.
Left untreated, TMD can cause pain in the neck, shoulders, and back, as well as headaches and tinnitus. These physical consequences can in-turn lead to non-physical ailments like depression, anxiety, and loss of sleep, among others. Simply put, TMD can wreak havoc on your quality of life.
So how do you know if your jaw pain requires more treatment than rummaging through the medicine cabinet? Here’s three signs that a call to Dr. Movahed may be in order.
Difficulty chewing, biting, and speaking
Experiencing pain as a result of chewing or biting (versus a persistent twinge) is a classic symptom of TMD. The jawbone is attached to the skull by two joints that allow the hinging motion of your mouth which can become damaged, and make any sliding motion extremely painful. While injections and pain medication can bring temporary relief, they act as more of a band-aid than a solution. A skilled oral surgeon can correct the problem permanently and eliminate the clicking sound that commonly accompanies severe jaw pain.
Many people commonly believe ear pain is the result of an infection. But according to The American Academy of Otolaryngology, the most common cause of ear pain is TMD. The muscles around the joint and the ligaments that hold the bones in the right spot are connected with the ear and supporting nerves, which causes the subsequent pain when the joint is damaged or worn. Hearing isn’t always impacted, but TMD can give a stuffy or clogged feeling within the ear.
Adjusting your diet to strictly soft foods such as eggs, vegetables, and noodles can alleviate the stress placed upon the joint, but often, the damage has already been done by the time a patient reaches the point where TMD is causing ear pain. At that stage, surgery could be an option.
Restricted Jaw Movement
The TMJ acts as a fulcrum between the skull and jaw. When it is damaged, it struggles to facilitate adequate range of motion and becomes more difficult to move which can ultimately result in complications when chewing, talking, etc. Many will associate restricted jaw movement with a number of other musculoskeletal afflictions like impacted teeth and arthritis. If you’re consistently experiencing restricted movement, corrective jaw surgery for TMD can restore expected mobility in the jaw permanently.All of these symptoms can be the result of a litany of other afflictions, so if you’re experiencing any of them, it’s important to speak to your doctor about your options. But if you’re like the 30% of TMD sufferers who don’t seek immediate treatment, corrective jaw and/or TMJ surgery may still be an option for you. Give us a call and schedule a consultation to see if we can help.