Can't figure out why your jaw hurts? Our Woodland, CA, dentist, Dr. James Zimmerman, shares several common causes of jaw pain and explains what you can do to ease your pain.
You grind and clench your teeth
Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw is a common cause of jaw pain. The habits stress your jaw muscles and joints, resulting in pain. In addition to jaw pain, other signs of grinding or clenching include eroded tooth enamel, cracks or chips in teeth or fillings, and morning headaches.
If grinding is related to stress, yoga, meditation and participation in a hobby or sport can be helpful in decreasing your stress level. Decreasing your caffeine or alcohol intake may be helpful. If you can't stop grinding or clenching, wearing a nightguard while you sleep will prevent damage and reduce stress on your jaw.
You place your hands under your jaw while you sleep
Have you ever woken up and noticed that your hands were wedged under your jaw? If you frequently sleep in this position, you may experience jaw pain in the morning. Luckily, often the problem can be corrected fairly easily. Hold a small or full-size pillow to prevent your hands from ending up under your chin during the night.
You have a bad bite
Bite problems affect the way your teeth fit together and can cause jaw pain. Braces can correct your bite and eliminate your pain.
You have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
Although TMJ symptoms can occur due to grinding and clenching or a bad bite, it's not always possible to determine the cause of the painful condition. Symptoms include jaw pain and stiffness, headaches, pain and stiffness in the neck and upper back, ear pain, difficulty chewing or opening and closing your mouth, popping sounds and jaw locking.
Heat, relaxation techniques and exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles may decrease your pain. Treatment of underlying issues, such as grinding, bite issues and injuries, can be very helpful. When you visit our Woodland office, we may also recommend an oral splint, a device that protects your upper and lower teeth from coming in contact with each other while you sleep.
Don't let jaw pain disrupt your life. Call our Woodland, CA, dentist, Dr. Zimmerman, at (530) 661-1155 to schedule an appointment.
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