Do you know how many jokes there are about your jaw? How many colloquialisms there are about your mouth? There are a lot. For example, when you “jaw” at someone, you are usually scolding them. Sometimes, you snatch victory from the jaws of defeat - which means you won when you thought you would lose. Having a glass jaw means you are too sensitive. Speaking of sensitive jaws, do you have one? Have you noticed lately your jaw is hurting? Have you noticed that there are times you have trouble chewing your food? Maybe you have trouble closing or opening your jaw? These are all signs or symptoms of problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This problem with your jaw is called a temporomandibular disorder (TMD). If you are in pain, and you know your pain is coming from your jaw, take a minute to read a little more about TMJ/TMD.
If you have TMD, your jaw is affected, and some of the muscles of your face are affected as well. Did you know that your jaw joint works exactly like your hip does? They are both ball and socket joints. They both move the same way as well - through the use of fibers. It is those fibers that allow you to move your jaw smoothly. The disk is held in place through collagen. If that collagen becomes inflamed, your jaw doesn’t move correctly. It can even become painful. It is estimated that as many as ⅓ of adults have problems with their TMJ. Researchers also found that more women than men have TMD because their collagen is made differently.
The symptoms of TMD are fairly clear and consistent from person to person. Do you have pain in the corner of your jaw? Is it close to your ear, and does it become worse when you chew or speak? Can you close your jaw well? Does it open easily? Do you have muscle spasms in your jaw? Maybe you have horrible headaches that begin in your jaw and spread through the rest of your skull? Do you hear noises like popping or cracking when you chew? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you may have TMD. You will be more prone to TMD if you had an accident that impacted your jaw. You might also develop TMD because you clench your teeth or grind them at night.
How is TMD Diagnosed and Treated?
When you come into our office, and you tell us your jaw is hurting, we are going to begin to ask questions. How long has your jaw been hurting? Does it hurt all the time? We also want to look at your teeth for evidence of other problems, such as teeth clenching or grinding. We will perform an exam where we feel your jaw joint, to see if we notice inflammation or tenderness. We might have you open and close your jaw.
If you are lucky, your TMD might last for a little while, especially if we can treat the underlying cause. We might also prescribe anti-inflammatories to help you reduce the pain and help your TMJ heal. If you think you might have trouble with your TMJ, give Lincoln Center Smiles a call at (971) 317-9499 . We can help you with your pain in the jaw.