Jaw Pain and Joint Dysfunction

Jaw pain or TMJ dysfunction is a common problem for many people. Find out more about the causes and ways to treat this common condition.

Do you have Jaw Pain?

One reason you may have jaw pain is due to Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction or disorder. Known as TMD, it is sometimes referred to as TMJ. The jaw joint is very unique and designed to move in many directions. Problems with the joint and with the muscles that operate the joint can result in pain.

People experiencing TMD usually have an acute inflammation of one or both of these areas. The problem requires removal of any causative factors, and then rest of the jaws, to allow the inflammation to subside and healing to occur.

What causes TMD?

Jaw pain can occur following:

  • Trauma such as an injury or impact to the joint area or facial muscles.
  • Grinding and Clenching of the teeth which makes the muscles tired and pressures the joint.
  • Stress is a very common cause and operates in reverse, as this makes the muscles very tight and encourages clenching and grinding of the teeth.
  • Arthritis or degeneration of the joint and damage to the joint disc that is responsible for cushioning the joint.


What are the symptoms of TMD?

  • Headaches and or earaches often occur with TMD
  • Tenderness can occur around the face and jaw joint as well as in the neck and shoulders.
  • Jaw lock can occur when you open too wide, or can prevent you from opening, allowing only a small amount of jaw opening.
  • Often the joint and muscles can be painful during chewing and speaking and even to touch.
  • The jaw joints can make noises such as popping, grating or clicking as you move your jaw.
  • Tired muscles and swelling in the side of the face can also occur.

How do I treat the Jaw Pain?

Today jaw-pain management is very conservative and designed to enable healing to occur. The following applied for 2-3 weeks usually helps alleviate symptoms and promotes healing.

REST the jaw muscles with a soft diet to start with, no over-stretching the joint and avoid talking for long periods.

ANTI INFLAMMATORY MEDICATION is very helpful but what to take varies, and individual advice from your doctor or dentist is important.

MOIST HEAT applied to the area around a painful joint with a heat pack, will help healing.

DISENGAGEMENT of the teeth will break the habit of clenching and grinding. During the day you must make a conscious effort to separate the teeth. The only time your teeth should touch is during swallowing and chewing. Your teeth should actually be apart at all other times of the day.

A NIGHT GUARD or Occlusal Splint which you place on your top teeth before going to sleep, when used correctly, will limit or completely stop any night time grinding and clenching.

ADJUNCTIVE THERAPY such as physiotherapy can be very helpful. The physiotherapist will be able to further assist by rendering treatments such as Ultrasound, Tens, I.R., manipulation and exercises.

Surgery on the jaw joint for Jaw pain is rarely performed these days, but is an option worth discussing with an Oral maxillofacial Surgeon if prescribed or if you have exhausted all other conservative care methods with little success.

Our dental practice in Spring Hill Brisbane has a comprehensive conservative treatment protocol and is supported with referrals to physiotherapists that specialise in the treatment of TMD and jaw pain. Get in touch today for a chat and let us help you on the road to recovery.

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