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Why does my jaw hurt?

Why does my jaw hurt?

It is interesting how throughout life, things seem to happen in patterns or waves.  I am sure someone at MIT has mathematically figured out the statistical probability for just about anything.  One thing I have noticed recently within the practice is that a number of patients have come in within the last month complaining of TMJ problems or facial pain problems.  Sure the holidays are stressful enough as it is.  Or maybe the job you have thought never could get more stressful just did.  People can do very interesting things in their sleep.  Research has shown that you can place tremendous amounts of pressure on your teeth while in REM sleep. You can also position your jaws in extremely awkward places while exerting this tremendous amount of pressure on your teeth.  Facial pain and jaw pain can occur for different reasons.

One of the most common causes of facial and jaw pain has to do with a bad bite.  Sometimes teeth get in the way of having your lower jaw seat into your Temporal Mandibular Joints.  This is what your body wants to naturally do but is unable to do.  So these interfering teeth can cause the jaw to be unable to close into a rest position and when your jaw is not in a rest position it is being held out in space by your chewing muscles.  Have you ever picked up a 5 or 10 lb. weight and held it in your out stretched arm for a while.  Sure the first minute or even the first few minutes is no problem but try doing that for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.  The muscles start to get really unhappy and bad things can happen.  Like what?  The muscles may fatigue and start to spasm, like Charlie horse in your leg… Ouch.  Maybe the muscles contract for so long that they pull the disc of cartilage separating your lower jaw out of position, stretching or tearing the ligament that holds the disc in place.  Once this happens the damage can be irreversible.  Now every time you chew food or open your mouth widely you hear popping and clicking in your joint or ear.  Hmm… That doesn’t sound good.  Worse yet, maybe your jaw used to pop and click but now gets locked or stuck, sometimes when you open.  Maybe you get ringing in your ears.  Or maybe your body reacts to the interfering teeth by subconsciously trying to grind them out of the way in your sleep.  Now you can add tooth pain, on and off cold sensitivity in the teeth, a fractured or broken tooth, or a tooth that is wearing away way too fast to the list.  Headaches are also very common with these conditions.

The mouth is a wonderfully harmonized system. The teeth, joints, and muscles must work in harmony with one another or bad things happen.  A famous dentist once said when teeth and muscles and bone war against one another, the teeth always lose.  So what should you do if these problems sound familiar?  Give us a call and schedule an appointment for an evaluation.  You may be in need of bite stabilization therapy.  These problems are typically progressive so if you fail to do anything odds are, it will get worse.