It may surprise you to learn that there are a number of different aches that you might suffer from that can be linked to back to your jaw joint. If you are suffering with pain in your shoulders or neck, have back pain, headaches and other types of jaw and facial problems then the issue may lie with your jaw joint. Although it is not strictly a dental issue, it is something that you should flag with your dentist rather than your GP. If you find that you are suffering with some of these symptoms, then it is certainly worth having a chat with your dentist who will be able to carry out a full examination to see what the issue is.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
The symptoms mentioned above are all common signs of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). This is the name given to a group of conditions that affect the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles and nerves causing pain. These are the chewing muscles and the joints that are found between the lower jaw and the base of the skull. It is not a life-threatening condition, and the symptoms may only last a few months. However, in some cases, they can be difficult to manage and chronic. This can affect your quality of life but if your symptoms are severe then there is specialist treatment available.
There are a number of symptoms that are associated with TMD:
- When you chew or move your mouth you might experience a clicking, popping or grating noise
- It is possible there may be a change in the way that your upper and lower teeth fit together
- You may suffer with muscle pain around the jaw
- You can get a pain in the front of the ear that spreads to other parts of the face: the cheek, ear and temple
- You may experience difficulty in opening your mouth – your jaw may feel a little tight as though it is stuck. Eating can also be difficult
- Headaches and migraines are another symptom you may struggle with
- You may struggle with a blocked sensation in your ear, a buzzing or even earache
- It is also possible to have issues with other types of pain in the body such as neckache or backache
As is often the case with many of these symptoms it is possible that you could end up with other related symptoms, for example disturbed sleep.
Causes of TMD
There are a number of possible causes of TMD:
- Bruxism – the grinding of teeth or clenching of the jaw during sleep
- Basic wear and tear inside the jaw joint, often as a result of osteoarthritis
- Jaw injury, perhaps as a result of surgery or a blow to the face
- Stress, some people suffer with increased stress and sensitivity to pain
- Uneven bite, this can occur as a result of dental crowns or dentures or even new fillings
- Some conditions such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia can lead to TMD
- Some people can just develop TMD with no specific cause being identified
What can my dentist do?
Traditionally a dentist would use a bite guard to assist a patient who has been diagnosed with TMD. However, there is a newer product that is now available that is effective in the treatment of TMD. A revolutionary medical device Cerezen, which consists of two custom made hollow inserts that are made using 3D printing is being effectively used to treat TMD. These inserts sit inside the ear canal, they are almost invisible and provide real pain relief.
If you have been diagnosed with TMD then why not contact a Dublin dental clinic to see how you might benefit from Cerezen.