Whether it’s a sharp pain, a dull throb, or a popping or clicking that just feels and sounds unsettling, pain in and around your TMJs (the jaw joints on either of your face) is no fun. While taking a dose of ibuprofen or applying a warm compress can help ease the ache temporarily, a more long term solution depends on discovering the underlying cause of your jaw pain. Today, Fort Worth dentist Dr. Steven Huffstutler discusses three potential causes of jaw pain and how this commonplace complaint can be treated.
Believe it or not, the foods you eat can have a big impact on the health of your TMJs. Specifically, eating a high amount of very chewy foods, like bagels, pizza crusts, dryer/leaner cuts of meat, and chewy treats like taffies, gummies, or bubble gum can overwork the jaw muscles, leading to fatigue. In addition, taking large bites of food can overextend your jaw, further straining the TMJs. Try limiting the number of problem foods you consume and see if you begin to experience fewer jaw aches.
The human body was designed to deal with environmental stress by tensing the muscles (in preparation to either flee or fight). However, when you deal with chronic stress, your muscles – particularly those around your jaws – don’t have the opportunity to relax. This leads to a phenomenon called bruxism, which is characterized by chronic teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Stress relief techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and daily exercise can often reduce the stress leading to bruxism and thus relieve bruxism-related jaw pain.
Your TMJs are comprised of an intricate system of muscles, cartilage, nerves, and bone. If something goes wrong in this system, it can result in TMJ disorder. This disorder has a number of characteristic symptoms, including jaw pain, pain in the neck, head, or shoulder, ringing ears, and popping or clicking noises in the jaw. TMJ is sometimes caused or exacerbated by bruxism, but can also be attributed to:
- Bite problems (inconsistencies in the way your top and bottom jaw meet)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Injuries to the mouth or jaw area
- Surprisingly, your dentist can help you discover the root cause of your jaw pain, and suggest a number of treatment options to help you experience relief.
About Your North Richland Hills Dentist:
With over 25 years of professional experience, Dr. Steven M. Huffstutler and his caring team proudly provide exceptional preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dental treatment to patients and their families across Dallas/Ft. Worth, including North Richland Hills, Denton, the Mid-cities, Southlake, and all surrounding communities. We also have extensive experience helping patients find relief from painful TMJ disorders (various forms of jaw dysfunction). To schedule an appointment with Dr. Huffstutler, contact our office today by calling 817-577-1444.