Pain in Your Jaw Muscles Can be Caused by TMJ

When it comes to pain, a toothache and jaw pain are among the most agonizing and excruciating conditions you may experience. But unlike a toothache, jaw pain can be difficult to diagnose, and discovering the underlying causes may be even more challenging.

In many cases, jaw pain can be traced back to disorders related to the temporomandibular joint, commonly known as TMJ or TMJ disorder. This joint connects the jawbone to the skull and functions in an up-and-down motion, as well as in a sliding motion. The TMJ plays an important role in everything from opening and closing your mouth to chewing, eating, speaking, singing, and even yawning.

So when there is an issue or disorder with the joint, the resulting condition is not only painful, but also highly disruptive.

The good news is that TMJ disorders are most often temporary and are highly treatable with non-invasive, non-surgical treatment options. Rebecca Castaneda, DDS, of Aesthetika Dental Center is a leading expert on temporomandibular joint issues. Dr. Castaneda studied under a world-renowned TMJ expert, co-authored a textbook on jaw pain, and taught classes on the subject of systematic TMJ.

She offers these insights on TMJ to help you understand that you should not ignore pain in your jaw. She starts by taking a deep dive into the symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

Headache and neck pain

If you suffer from TMJ, you are not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 10 million Americans have some form of dysfunction related to jaw muscles or joint movement.

For many people, the issue shows up in the form of a headache or radiating neck pain or discomfort in the face or ear area. Others may hear a clicking or popping sound when they open or close their mouth. Still others notice a sudden change in their bite or may have trouble chewing.

Often, diagnosing TMJ is complicated by the fact that each person has a unique set of symptoms. If you have persistent jaw pain or sensitivity in the jaw area, see us at Aesthetika Dental Center right away so we can properly diagnose and treat the source of your pain.

Injuries and teeth clenching

TMJ can be the result of a traumatic injury like an accident. But in many cases, the actual cause is not known. Some risk factors include chronic clenching and grinding of teeth triggered by stress, arthritis, and connective tissue diseases affecting the joint.

Conservative, varied treatment plans

With TMJ treatment, less is definitely more. We develop non-invasive, reversible treatment plans for a majority of our TMJ patients. The goal is to alleviate your pain and discomfort without creating permanent changes to your facial tissue, your jaw, the joint or the position of your jaw or teeth.

Typical TMJ treatments can include developing ways to reduce stress and short-term use of a splint or dental appliance like a bite guard to disrupt grinding or clenching, as well as over-the-counter pain relievers. For more severe cases, we coordinate care with a team of specialists, who work together to develop a treatment plan.

If you are suffering from jaw or neck pain, contact us at Aesthetika Dental Center in the Union Square neighborhood of San Francisco. Book your appointment online or call today.

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