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TMJ Tooth Pain - TMJ Pain Relief

Toothache Pain Relief

TMJ Pain Relief

As TMJ tooth pain we consider a toothache that is caused by problems related with the temporomandibular joint, that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. Although it may feels like one, it is not actually a tooth pain but a joint pain. In most cases of tmj tooth pain there is nothing wrong with your teeth.

What causes TMJ tooth pain?

TMJ tooth pain is related with TMJ syndrome, a group of disorders originating either from the temporomandibular joint or from the muscles that support it. Common tmj problems include:

  • Muscle problems – Inflammation and pain caused by excessive pressure on the muscles responsible for the movement of the jaw, usually referred as myofascial pain.
  • Disc problems - Dislocation or damage of the cartilage disk inside the joint between the two jaws.
  • Joint problems – Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ.

The following conditions are considered as root causes of tmj tooth pain:

  • Bite problems - Malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth) causing uneven pressure on mastication muscles.
  • Bruxism - Teeth grinding causes wear of the cartilage disc of the joint while teeth clenching is putting stress on the facial muscles.
  • Emotional stress and anxiety causing muscle tension.
  • Accidental injuries to the temporomandibular joint, jaws, or muscles.
  • Over-stretching of the jaw.

Any of these conditions that may result to the inflammation or injury of the temporomandibular joint or of the muscles can also cause reflected pain to a tooth or teeth.

TMJ pain or tooth pain?

The teeth where the tmj tooth pain is felt can be completely healthy, but many times the pain looks so convincingly like it is caused by a specific tooth, that may lead to unnecessary treatments. A misdiagnosed tmj tooth pain can lead to the extraction of a wisdom tooth or to a root canal to a healthy tooth. The dentist should properly evaluate the possibility of tmj problems before proceeding to any therapy.

Several symptoms can give an indication that a toothache is actually caused by a tmj disorder.

  • A clicking or popping noise of the jaw when chewing or opening the mouth is the most common sign of tmj problems.
  • Pain in the jaw joint area, neck and shoulders.
  • Headache or ear ache.
  • Inability to open the mouth very wide
  • Locking jaw

If any of the above symptoms is also present along with a toothache, a thorough examination by the dentist is required to identify if the toothache is caused by a tooth related pain or it is a side effect of a tmj problem. Confusing a tmj tooth pain with a wisdom tooth pain is the most common case of misdiagnosing tmj problems.

TMJ Pain Relief - How to stop TMJ tooth pain?

If the dentist diagnoses a toothache as a tmj tooth pain, the only permanent solution is the treatment of the TMJ disorder.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the dental experts who are specially trained for treating problems of the temporomandibular joint.

Some temporary tmj pain relief can be achieved by using any of the anti-inflammatory pain medicines and muscle relaxants. Applying ice or hot packs can help in reducing muscle tension and relieving tmj tooth pain.

Mild cases of tmj tooth pain, when the joint is not permanently damaged, can be treated with conservative measures such as following a soft diet, careful and slow chewing, and stopping aggravating habits as teeth grinding or chewing gums.

Jaw exercises and massaging have been proven to be very effective in relaxing the jaw muscles and reducing the joint irritation and pain. Stress management is another key treatment when the pain is caused by tooth clenching. The dentist can recommend the use of a night mouth guard. Night guards are usually advised if the tmj tooth pain is more intense in the morning after waking up.

Orthodontic treatment is required when the tension of the joint and muscle is caused by malocclusion (bite) problems. TMJ surgery that may involve relocating or replacing the jaw joint disc is indicated only in cases of tmj tooth pain due to severe structural damage of the joint.


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