Jaw Pain

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

 

 

 

 

 

What is it?

TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, means that the hinge connecting the upper and lower jaw isn't working properly. This hinge is one of the most complex joints in the body, responsible for moving the lower jaw forward, backward and side-to-side. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working as it should is called TMJ.

Often, TMJ feels like your jaw is popping or clicking or even "getting stuck" for a moment.

 

What does it feel like?

  • Headaches (often mimicking migraines), earaches, and pain and pressure behind the eyes

  • A clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth

  • Pain brought on by yawning, opening the mouth widely or chewing

  • Jaws that "get stuck," lock or go out

  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles

  • A sudden change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

Why does it happen?

-The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment
-The joint's cartilage is damaged by arthritis
-The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact

 

 

Bruxism

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is it?

Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth when you're awake or clench or grind them during sleep.

Mild bruxism may be asymptomatic. However, in some people, bruxism can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems.

What does it feel like?

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner

  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose

  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth

  • Increased tooth pain or sensitivity

  • Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won't open or close completely

  • Jaw, neck or face pain or soreness

  • Pain that feels like an earache, though it's actually not a problem with your ear

  • Dull headache starting in the temples

  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek

  • Sleep disruption

Why does it happen?

  • Increased anxiety or stress 

  • Medications and other substances. Bruxism may be an uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as certain antidepressants. Smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or using recreational drugs may increase the risk of bruxism.

  • Family members with bruxism. 

  • Bruxism can be associated with some mental health and medical disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy, night terrors, sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Trigeminal Neuralgia

 

 

 

 

What is it?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. If you have trigeminal neuralgia, even mild stimulation of your face — such as from brushing your teeth or putting on makeup — may trigger a jolt of excruciating pain.

What does it feel like?

  • Episodes of severe, shooting or jabbing pain that may feel like an electric shock

  • Spontaneous attacks of pain or attacks triggered by things such as touching the face, chewing, speaking or brushing teeth

  • Bouts of pain lasting from a few seconds to several minutes

  • Episodes of several attacks lasting days, weeks, months or longer — some people have periods when they experience no pain

  • Constant aching, burning feeling that may occur before it evolves into the spasm-like pain of trigeminal neuralgia

  • Pain in areas supplied by the trigeminal nerve, including the cheek, jaw, teeth, gums, lips, or less often the eye and forehead

  • Pain affecting one side of the face at a time, though may rarely affect both sides of the face

  • Pain focused in one spot or spread in a wider pattern

  • Attacks that become more frequent and intense over time

Why does it happen?​​

  • In trigeminal neuralgia, the trigeminal nerve's function is disrupted. Usually, the problem is contact between a normal blood vessel — in this case, an artery or a vein — and the trigeminal nerve at the base of your brain. This contact puts pressure on the nerve and causes it to malfunction.

  • Trigeminal neuralgia can occur as a result of aging, or it can be related to multiple sclerosis or a similar disorder that damages the myelin sheath protecting certain nerves

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