If you notice facial pain, soreness in the jaw, and headaches when waking up, a jaw disorder called TMJ (temporomandibular joint) could be the culprit.
Clenching the jaw during sleep can be a symptom of TMJ symptoms. The resulting pain can spread to the rest of the face and head and may get worse when yawning or chewing. If you’re clenching your jaw overnight because of stress, you should see a dental professional as soon as possible. Only a dentist can assess whether there’s been any damage to your teeth and jaw and advise you on how to fix it.
Symptoms of TMJ
While doctors can’t pinpoint the exact cause of TMJ, stress is a significant contributor. The body finds ways to express feelings of stress and anxiety in physical ways that a person doesn’t always notice or control. Nervousness often causes involuntary jaw grinding at night. Continually clenching like that can cause jaw spasms. Genetics, arthritis, and old facial injuries are also known to cause this jaw disorder.
Severe grinding can cause misalignment of the jaw, so it’s important to treat this syndrome quickly. You may also notice tension headaches, soreness, and tenderness that extend beyond the jaw area. Other symptoms of TMJ include:
- Pain and tenderness in the jaw area
- Discomfort of the temporomandibular joints
- Aches and cramps around the ears
- Difficulty chewing
- Joint locking, such as popping or clicking noises when you move your jaw
- Facial pain
Anyone experiencing these symptoms for a prolonged amount of time should speak to a specialist to receive a full estimate of the damage.
For many people, the symptoms of TMJ go away on their own. Continual problems are a cause for concern, but there are ways to stop grinding your teeth at night. Talk to a dental professional about your options. Often, muscular problems can be effectively treated with physical therapy, whereas surgery is only recommended for bone or structural defects.
An oral surgeon will examine your jaw, document your symptoms, and conduct imaging studies before operating. However, even if stress is not the underlying cause of your symptoms, it can make TMJ disorder worse. Even with medical treatment, it’s a good idea to apply some stress management measures, like meditation and other techniques. You may need to see a counselor to figure out how to effectively manage your anxiety. That way, once you treat your TMJ, the symptoms won’t come back.
If your issues are severe and suggested pain treatment has been ineffective, it may be time for you to consider surgery. Dr. Nancy Herbst at Union City Oral & Maxillofacial surgery has over 25 years of experience providing New Jersey patients with top-notch care during various procedures. Let us take care of you to ensure that you can get back to living a happy and pain-free life as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.