Jaw pain may be confined to the jaw joints themselves or may be localised somewhere in the jaw. The jaw joints of which there are two – one on each side of the jaw, are hinge like joints which allow the jaw bones to open and close, so that we can talk, eat, chew and drink. The lower jaw bone, also called the mandible, is the bone that actually moves, while the upper jaw bone, the maxilla, is fixed to the lower skull. The jaw joint is more correctly called the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. Problems with the alignment of the teeth can cause jaw pain as well as headaches, pains in the neck and other symptoms, such as dizziness.
When a dentist can help diagnose and treat jaw pain
Jaw pain, which is caused by a TMJ disorder, or TMD (temporomandibular disorder) may, after diagnosis, be treated by your Burlington, Ontario dentist who has the right training and experience in this field of dentistry. Normally, a dentist may be turned to when a doctor is unable to diagnose the problem or unable to help treat the pain with anything else other than painkillers.
Your dentist may be able to detect whether you are suffering from malocclusion, which is a common cause of TMJ problems and so jaw pain. There are other causes, such as an accident which has damaged your jaw, excessive teeth grinding or clenching, which sometimes happens at night, or excessive biting or chewing.
Treatment for dentally related jaw pain
If your Burlington, Ontario dentist is able to find the cause of the TMJ related jaw pain and it is a dental problem, he or she may treat it by a gentle massage using a mild, electrical stimulator. This may be followed by the use of a custom made orthotic device that prevents your jaw from closing in the wrong direction. It is also possible that if you have misaligned teeth, or they are crooked, you may be advised to have orthodontic treatment to help straighten your teeth and put less pressure on them when you close your teeth together.