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Do You Have Arthritis in Your Jaw?  

February 28, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — silvercreekteam @ 4:43 pm
older man holding touching painful jaw

When most people hear the word “arthritis,” they probably imagine creaky knees, hands, or elbows. But did you know it’s possible to develop arthritis in the jaw? It’s more common than you might think, but fortunately, getting ahead of it and seeking out treatment is fairly straightforward these days. If your jaw frequently pops or gets “stuck,” you should definitely keep reading.

How Your Jaw Works

In order to understand how arthritis can impact the jaw, it helps to understand its anatomy first. When you move your chin from side to side, you should feel two hinges right in front of your ears. This is your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. Your TMJ is what allows your jaw to move freely in all directions, enabling you to eat, speak, laugh, yawn, and more. When arthritis develops in the jaw, it happens specifically in the TMJ.

Chicken or the Egg

When it comes to jaw arthritis, it can be the cause OR result of dysfunction in the TMJ. Osteoarthritis (which is a gradual loss of cartilage in a joint that helps it move properly) can naturally develop over time, and given how much everyone uses their jaw each day, it’s a wonder more people don’t have this problem!

At the same time, arthritis can stem from things like nighttime teeth grinding or an uneven bite that forces the jaw to constantly move and shift, tiring out the muscles while straining the joint. This can lead to a loss of cartilage and start the arthritis process.

Symptoms of Jaw Arthritis

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • A stiff jaw that is difficult to open, close, or move side to side
  • The mouth sometimes becomes “stuck” opening or closing
  • Constant popping and clicking in the jaw
  • Tenderness and pain in front of the ear
  • Worn down teeth due to repetitive grinding
  • Discomfort when eating foods that require a lot of chewing
  • Chronic headaches/migraines that don’t respond to other treatments

How to Get Help

For people struggling with this problem, the care they need can be found somewhere they might not expect—the dentist.

Dentists are not only experts when it comes to the teeth—they also have a deep knowledge of oral anatomy, including how the jaw and bite work. This means they can examine the TMJ, determine what is causing the problem, and provide treatment. On top of recommending medication, they can also provide custom-made mouthguards to prevent teeth grinding, adjust the bite to remove high-pressure spots, and even inject Botox to deliver immediate relief.

You don’t have to simply live with a stiff, aching jaw. Scheduling a dental appointment might be all that you need to enjoy pain-free days and meals again.

About the Practice

Silver Creek Dentistry is led by a team of four experienced dentists dedicated to the Ripon community. Thanks to their combined expertise, patients can get pretty much anything they need right here at home, including TMJ/TMD treatment for those dealing with persistent jaw pain and headaches. To learn more about how we can help, visit our website or call (920) 748-7200 to schedule a consultation.