What Can Cause TMJ Pain?

What Causes TMJ Pain?

Team TMJ

Do you have pain in your jaw or the temple region of your head, and are you wondering about what causes TMJ pain? This type of pain is most likely due to a disorder of the TMJ, the temporomandibular joint, which is the location on each side of your head where your lower jaw connects to your skull. 

TMJ disorder can be caused by a variety of things from injuries to chronic diseases. If you have TMJ pain, here are some potential causes.

Overuse of the Jaw

The temporomandibular joint, like any other joint, can become irritated or inflamed from overuse. If you are frequently chewing gum or chewy candy you may find that you have some pain in your TMJ by the end of the day. Situations that require a lot of talking, such as giving a presentation for work or answering phone calls in a call center, can overwork your jaw. Singing or playing a musical instrument may also cause strain on your jaw from overuse. 

Excess Strain on the Jaw

TMJ pain is sometimes caused by how you use your jaw rather than how frequently. For example, if you’re chewing on hard candy, ice, nuts, other hard foods or even non-food items, it can put excessive pressure on your TMJ and cause irritation and inflammation. Chewy foods like steak, gummy candy, or jerky can cause the joint to become inflamed. Stress can cause you to clench your teeth harder than you normally would, which can lead to TMJ pain. 

Injury to the Jaw 

A blow to the face in the area of your jaw can cause TMJ pain. Being in an accident where your airbag deploys, getting hit in the face during a boxing match, or even falling and hitting your chin can potentially knock the joint out of alignment. Misalignment of the jaw can cause the disc that cushions the joint to slip out of place, which allows the bones to rub together painfully. It can also cause the muscles in the face to become tense and sore. 

Orthodontic Conditions

Bite misalignment that occurs naturally, such as cross bite, overbite, underbite, or open bite can cause TMJ pain. When the teeth don’t meet together properly it puts excess strain or force on your temporomandibular joint, and over time it can become painful. 

Inflammatory Diseases

Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints. It typically develops in older age, but it can occur at any time in your life. The joints become inflamed, causing swelling and pain. The same condition that causes pain in your knees, ankles, hands and other joints can also cause pain in your TMJ. 

Autoimmune Disorders 

An autoimmune disorder is a condition that causes your immune system to attack your body by mistake. Rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic condylar resorption, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Sjogren’s syndrome, systemic lupus erythema, and scleroderma are just some examples of autoimmune disorders that could cause TMJ pain. 

How TMJ Pain is Treated 

There are many ways to treat TMJ disorder

  • Anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Since the primary cause of TMJ pain is inflammation, anti-inflammatory pain medication is the best type to take, which includes ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), aspirin, and naproxen (Aleve). 
  • Ice or cold compress. It may help to apply ice or a cold compress to the side of your face where you are feeling TMJ pain. Cold reduces swelling and inflammation. 
  • Rest your jaw. Try your best not to use your jaw unless absolutely necessary. Eat a soft or liquid diet for a few days and try not to talk much. 
  • Orthodontics. Orthodontic treatment such as clear aligners or braces can straighten the teeth and align the bite to provide permanent relief of TMJ disorder. 
  • Injections. Steroid and Botox injections can provide relief of muscle tension that is often the source of TMJ pain. 
  • Bite splints. Bite splints stabilize the bite so that it stays in proper alignment when you open and close your mouth. 
  • Surgery. In severe cases when no other treatments have been effective, surgery may be necessary. 

Where Can I Get Treatment For TMJ Pain?

If you’re experiencing TMJ pain, Sunshine Dentistry provides treatment for TMJ disorder and its symptoms. We can assess the severity of your situation and recommend or provide the best course of treatment to give you permanent relief of your pain and restore range of motion in your jaw. Our goal is to get to the source of your TMJ disorder to completely eliminate your symptoms and prevent them from coming back. 

Call 609-465-5415 or contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.