Do you experience jaw pain daily? Does it occur when you chew or talk? Or is it a constant pain? If so, then TMJ may be to blame. TMJ or sometimes TMJ disorder occurs when your temporomandibular joint, located on either side of your head connecting your jaw to your skull is inflamed, damaged, or deformed.

You don’t have to live with jaw pain. TMJ treatment can be highly successful at reducing or eliminating your jaw pain. Learn more about jaw pain on this page, or schedule an appointment with Dr. Adam Hahn to talk about alleviating your jaw pain today. Please call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today.

Diagram showing the jaw bone and muscle

How TMJ Causes Jaw Pain

The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull (cranium). You can feel it if you put your fingers in front of your ears and move your jaw. You may feel jaw pain here or elsewhere as a result of TMJ.

Inflammation of the ligaments that hold the temporal and mandibular bones together is the most common cause of pain at the TM joints. This inflammation is often caused by strain to the joint from grinding or clenching your jaws while you sleep, typically because of malocclusion, when your teeth don’t fit together quite right. The inflammation leads to the formation of a capsule around the joint, which is why the condition is caused capsulitis. Other times, inflammation may be due to trauma to the jaw joint, such as a car accident.

Other times, jaw pain is caused by a tearing of the ligament that tethers the articular disc between the temporal and mandibular bones. The disc acts both as a bearing to allow smooth movement of the bones, and also as a flexible cushion between them. When it’s out of place, you may experience joint popping or clicking as the displaced jaw joint suddenly pops into place. Untreated disc displacement will cause progressive damage, resulting in arthritis (inflammation of the joint) and destruction of the bones. If left too long, joint replacement surgery may be the only treatment option.

Illustration showing an anterior disk displacement
Illustration showing an anterior disk displacement with morphologic distortion of the disk
Illustration showing an anterior disk displacement with morphologic change

Immediate & Long-Term Relief

TMJ treatment can alleviate your jaw pain. Relief can begin as soon as your first visit to our office. TENS, a form of electric massage, can relax tense muscles and allow your jaw to slip back into place. Other times, we may recommend just medication, which can reduce inflammation and again allow your jaw to fit back into place.

For long-term relief, a stabilization appliance, also called an oral splint, can help prevent you from clenching your jaws and putting too much stress on the TMJ. To keep stress off your jaw, dental restorations or orthodontic treatment may be used to eliminate malocclusion.

To learn how TMJ treatment can reduce or eliminate your jaw pain. Please call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today.