A common dental ailment we see in our Acton, MA dental practice is jaw pain, and many patients wonder if it is caused by a TMJ disorder. Dr. Ratti Handa is an airway dentist with extensive experience in diagnosing and treating jaw pain, TMJ, and other problems that negatively impact your quality of life. Here are some of the most common questions we receive about jaw pain and TMJ disorders and how you can find long-term relief.
What Causes Jaw Pain?
The ability to open and close your mouth is a surprisingly delicate and complex system of muscles, tendons, and bone working together. There are many factors that can contribute to jaw pain, but one of the most common causes is a long history of teeth grinding. This can happen both during sleep and during the day, especially in people with a stressful job or lifestyle. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, causes jaw pain because it places pressure on the mouth muscles for a long period of time.
You may also experience jaw pain from an uneven bite, such as an overbite or underbite, or have missing teeth. When teeth are not properly aligned or shift in the mouth, they may become overworked when chewing or speaking. Unevenly worn teeth can also contribute to premature tooth decay.
Do I Have A TMJ Disorder?
Any pain associated with the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) on either side of your jaw is considered a TMJ disorder, or TMD. A TMD has a variety of symptoms, including:
- Jaw pain
- Neck pain
- Tension headaches
- Popping or clicking when opening or closing your mouth
- Chronic tooth grinding
TMJ is more difficult to identify and properly treat than many patients realize, but Dr. Handa has advanced training and extensive experience diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders. We’ll carefully evaluate your situation to determine the best course of treatment.
How is TMJ Treated?
The right treatment depends on the underlying reason for jaw pain. After detailed imaging and evaluation, your dentist will be able to recommend the best treatment.
Airway centered dentistry enables our team to treat often complex concerns that can disrupt daily life in adult patients. Dr. Handa provides personalized, consultative care for oral health needs that can also improve symptoms such as craniofacial pain and chronic headaches often associated with TMJ disorders.
For example, if a misaligned bite is the culprit, you may need orthodontics or oral surgery. If a missing tooth is causing pain, you may need to consider restorative dentistry to replace the tooth and help your natural teeth stay in place. Some patients may need to use a night guard, which can help hold the teeth in a better position and help with tooth grinding.
Stop TMJ Pain in Acton, MA
While you’re waiting for your appointment with Dr. Handa to treat your jaw pain in our Acton, MA dentist office, there are some at-home remedies you can try. Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter pain reliever that can help, and holding a cold compress to the cheek will help reduce inflammation and swelling around the joint. You may also want to set reminders for yourself to relax, release jaw and neck tension, and gently massage the areas.
Schedule your appointment online or call us at 978.212.3783 today to find out the best treatment for your jaw pain.