Jaw pain and pain that radiates from your jaw to your head, neck or shoulders could indicate that you may have a problem with your temporomandibular joint. Clenching teeth, grinding your teeth and other habits put additional stress on the joints and surrounding tissues where your jaw bone is hinged. This added pressure leads to muscle fatigue, inflammation and discomfort.
Temporomandibular joint disorder, also called TMJ or TMD, is a common problem among a third of the adult population and can be treated with general dentistry. One of the most prevalent symptoms is a headache. Data shows that women are more affected by this disorder than men.
Treatment for TMJ/TMD is dependent upon the severity of the case. In many instances, the problem will resolve on its own after a period of time. Other than aspirin or ibuprofen for headaches, no special treatment is necessary. However, when OTC pain relievers do not help or when discomfort continues, other pain management care is required. In mild cases, learning certain exercises in addition to pain medication will ease discomfort. In more severe situations, other interventions may be necessary.
Special custom-made mouth guards can be used when sleeping to stop teeth grinding. Learning how to manage your stress level may also help relax the muscles around the jaw joint.