Chronic temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain affects millions of people across the country, the majority of them women. But what causes TMJ pain, and how does the cause of the pain inform the proper treatment plan?
At Alpine Oral and Facial Surgery, we have seen hundreds of patients suffering from TMJ disorders. Our absolute first step when seeing these patients is to review their medical history, examine their jaw area, and learn about their TMJ issues. Determining the cause or causes of their jaw joint pain is absolutely imperative to relieving the pain and curing the patient.
What are the most common causes of TMJ pain?
- Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. Jaw clenching and teeth grinding is a very common cause of jaw joint pain. Many people may clench or grind at night and not be aware of the issue.
- An improperly aligned bite. If your jaw isn’t opening and shutting properly, you could suffer from chronic jaw joint pain. Your misaligned bite may be genetic or may be related to facial trauma.
- Jaw trauma. A blow to the head or jaw can cause an improperly aligned bite or other TMJ damage that leads to chronic pain. Jaw trauma could be caused by a car accident, a fall, an assault, or any other jaw impact.
- Arthritis. If the jaw joint cartilage has been damaged by arthritis, the movement of the joint can cause considerable pain.
- Stress or anxiety. Mental and psychological issues like stress and anxiety can cause patients to clench their jaw or grind their teeth. These actions in turn can cause chronic TMJ pain.
- Growth and developmental problems. Some TMJ problems are congenial or take place during development. These issues could involve the bones, cartilage, or muscles.
Treating Your TMJ Disorder
Your treatment of TMJ pain will not be successful unless the root cause of your disorder is understood. For example, if your jaw pain is caused by arthritis, the treatment is very different from if your jaw pain is caused by stress.
It’s also important to note that many sufferers of a TMJ disorder may experience pain for multiple reasons. For example, a patient may have a misaligned bite and also grind her teeth. Another patient may have past jaw trauma as well stress and anxiety that is making the issue worse.
TMJ Pain Treatment At The Surgical Arts Centre
Although the Surgical Arts Centre treats some TMJ disorders with jaw surgery, we believe that operating should only be considered after other options are explored and only in certain cases. To learn more about the cause of your TMJ pain as well as your best treatment options, please call and schedule a consultation today: (406)549-6600.