• March 28, 2016

Pain in your jaw? When most of us hear that we assume something is wrong with our TMJ, or temporomandibular joint. That’s the joint that your jaw hinges on, and it’s a common spot for people to have problems. We see a lot of people who have jaw pain at Shorewood Family Dental Care, and not all of them understand it.

There are a lot of jaw pain myths floating around, and we want to clear a few of them up today. Hopefully we can answer a few questions or quash a few rumors you’ve heard about TMJ pain. Once things are cleared up you can approach getting a diagnosis without misinformation floating around!

Myth: Only People Who Grind Their Teeth Experience TMJ Pain

False! There are number of reasons why people end up with pain in their jaws, of which bruxism is only one. TMJ disorders can be caused by arthritis, a slipped cartilage disk, or even bad jaw alignment! For most people it’s a combination of factors, making teeth grinding just a part of the problem.

Even if you don’t brux at all you can be dealing with TMJ pain, which is exactly why it’s so important to seek a professional diagnosis. We’ve seen far too many patients who have come to us after wasting a lot of money on over-the-counter remedies with little to no success.

Myth: Jaw Pain Is Just A Product Of Stress

It’s interesting how fast medical science advances. Before we had the ability to take high-quality X-ray and digital images of your jaw there was no understanding of how the TMJ malfunctioned. That lead to the common belief that all jaw pain was caused by stress and not permanent wear, tear, and damage to the jaw joint.

We know better now, but that myth hangs around. A lot of people still think their frequent headaches, jaw pain, and difficulty opening and closing their mouth is due to stress. While mental tension can make TMJ pain worse it’s not the sole cause – there’s something physically wrong when you’re in that kind of pain!

Myth: Surgery Is The Only Solution

It’s a joint problem, so that must mean that it’s going to require surgery to fix, right? Not at all! In some cases surgery may be the best option, but those are only a few of the TMJ pain cases we see. The vast majority of patients will find relief with simple treatments like a therapeutic mouthguard that is worn at night. These appliances hold your jaw in a comfortable position that allows it to relax and get the rest it needs without grinding, tension, or misalignment causing more pain.

Some patients also find relief from orthodontic treatment to correct malocclusion and bite issues. Even cosmetic orthodontic treatments can sometimes be enough to fix the problem that’s causing you so much misery!

Myth: You Can Wait Out The Pain – It Will Go Away On Its Own

We’ve heard from a few patients that they waited to see what happened before contacting us about their TMJ pain. That wait ultimately only caused them more discomfort! Problems with your jaw joint, no matter the origin, are progressive conditions that only get worse the longer you wait.

We tend to think aches and pains are the kind of thing that will go away, just like the discomfort from an overworked muscle. Unfortunately TMJ pain has its origin in your jaw joint, which makes it a problem that requires correction as soon as possible. Waiting will only make things worse.

Myth: TMJ Won’t Ruin Your Oral Health

Because it’s a problem with the jaw joint some people assume that their teeth are perfectly safe. These same people realize a few years later that they were quite wrong!

Many of the causes of TMJ pain, such as bruxism, a bad bite, and jaw misalignment, can result in several permanent conditions that damage your teeth. These three problems can all wear down your teeth, increasing your risk of cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss. In short, TMJ pain can be a symptom that something is very wrong and it needs attention right away.

We Want To Help!

Don’t be lulled into thinking home remedies, over-the-counter treatments, and waiting will make your pain go away. The only way to truly eliminate your jaw pain is to know the myths and come see us at Shorewood Family Dental Care so we can get to the bottom of it and prescribe a solution!

Do your poor jaw a favor and call us right away at 815-725-5991. Or save yourself the minutes and request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon!