Jaw Pain

The jaw joint, medically referred to as the temporomandibular joint or TMJ, is made up of the bone below the mouth (the mandible, commonly referred to as the jawbone) and the bone just above the mouth (the maxilla).

Causes

There are many factors that contribute to jaw pain including:

Teeth clenching

Postural factors (Such as Holding a Telephone Between the Ear and Shoulder)

Headaches (especially migraines and cluster headaches)

Referred pain (eg heart attack)

Dental issues (tooth decay, infection)

Sinus inflammation (infection, hayfever)

Types of jaw injuries

 



Grinding

Known as bruxism, excessive grinding of the teeth can lead to jaw pain, headaches and even ear aches. Grinding often occurs at night or during times of increased stress. While some people may be aware that they clench their teeth when stressed or especially focused, many people don’t realise they grind their teeth. It may be brought to their attention by their dentist due to signs of wear on the teeth, or by their partner due to an interrupted night’s sleep!

Treatment options may include:

  • Myotherapy
  • Osteopathy
  • Dental/Orthodontic consultation
  • Acupuncture
  • Stretching exercises
  • Meditation or other relaxation methods in cases where stress is a causative factor


Clicking Jaw

Clicking jaw refers to the audible click heard when opening or closing the mouth. This may be due to spasm or weakness in the muscles that act on the jaw. Even in cases where the clicking is not particularly loud or painful, the asymmetrical movement can cause unnecessary wear and tear of the joint over time.

Treatment options may include:

  • Myotherapy
  • Osteopathy
  • Dental/Orthodontic consultation
  • Stretching exercises

Locking Jaw

Locking jaw refers to the spasm of the muscles acting on the jaw and the resulting inability to fully open (or close) the jaw. This may occur quite suddenly while talking, yawning, or eating, and is usually incredibly painful. Some people can be prone to recurrent bouts of locking jaw, while for others it can be a one-off occurrence following trauma, long dental procedures such as wisdom tooth removal, or an increase in stress. A locked jaw can also occur as a consequence of grinding and clicking jaw. <-- both hyperlinked to previous sections Treatment options may include:

  • Myotherapy
  • Osteopathy
  • Dental/Orthodontic consultation
  • Acupuncture
  • Stretching exercises
  • Meditation or other relaxation methods in cases where stress is a causative factor
  • Surgery (in extreme, chronic cases)