Do you often awaken in the morning to find that your jaw is sore or that your neck and shoulders feel tense? Perhaps you suffer from frequent headaches that tend to begin in the area surrounding your temples. These symptoms are common in individuals with nighttime teeth grinding and daily jaw clenching, or bruxism and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
It’s been estimated that up to 30% of adults will experience TMD at some point in their lives.
The condition itself isn’t usually serious, and the symptoms it can cause – including pain, jaw joint clicking or popping, and difficulties eating – usually only last a few months before getting better. However, these symptoms can last longer and can significantly lower quality of life and be very painful – but don’t panic, as your dentist can help with treatment that is typically non-invasive, affordable and easily accessible.
What are the symptoms?
TMD can cause:
- clicking, popping or grating noises as you chew or move your mouth
- muscle pain around the jaw
- pain in front of the ear that may spread to the cheek, ear and temple
- difficulty opening the mouth – the jaw may feel tight, as if it is stuck, making eating difficult
- headache or migraine
- earache or a “buzzing” or blocked sensation in the ear
- pain in other areas of the body – such as neckache or backache
These symptoms may lead to related symptoms, such as disturbed sleep.
What are the causes?
Possible causes of TMD include:
- clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth during sleep (bruxism) – which overworks the jaw muscles and puts pressure on the joint (often caused by stress)
- wear and tear of the inside of the jaw joint – usually caused by osteoarthritis
- injury to the jaw joint – for example, after a blow to the face or surgery
- stress – some people may inherit increased sensitivity to pain or stress
- uneven bite – for example, when new fillings, dental crowns or dentures are fitted
- specific diseases – TMD may be associated with specific diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or fibromyalgia
However, some people may develop TMD without an obvious cause being found.
What to do……
We can help with the symptoms and possibly the source of the problem.
Please do mention to your Dentist if you have any of these symptoms.
DON’T stay quietly in pain – talk to your Dentist at Fellows Dental Practice about any symptoms you may be having.