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Jaw Pain? TMJ Issues? This May Be a Dental Problem.

In dentistry, one of the well-understood implications of working with teeth is that you’re not only working in the mouth.  From our perspective, there are two other major players when dealing with proper functioning of the oral system: the joints and the muscles.

When the whole system is not functioning in harmony, we can see signs of breakdown in the mouth: chipped teeth, prematurely worn-down teeth, loose teeth.

However, signs of breakdown can also occur outside the mouth.  These will come primarily in the form of muscle issues (pain, whether chronic or acute, limited opening or range of motion, difficulty chewing tough foods or gum) or actual TMJ (jaw joint) issues (clicking, popping, grinding noises or possibly pain and limited movement).

No matter what the problem, the key here is proper diagnosis and prompt treatment.  We’ve written here about why not to leave things until they are painful.  When a sign of dysfunction such as clicking occurs, please have it examined!  Just because something isn’t hurting doesn’t mean that nothing is wrong!  Usually things need to deteriorate to a certain level before they hurt, and the goal is to prevent things from becoming irreparably damaged.

Our practice is to screen patients for potential dental causes for your jaw muscle or joint problems.  When there is a click, there can often be a dental origin for it.  Here are things to look for:

– clicking or other noises in the joint,

– soreness in the muscles around the mouth, such as your cheeks or temple areas, or even around the joint area

– difficulty chewing tough foods or gum

– having more than one bite, ie: not knowing where you should be biting when teeth come together

– having to squeeze your teeth together to make them fit

– restless sleep or waking up knowing that you’ve been clenching or grinding

So what can we do?  Assuming that you are a candidate, we will attempt to decipher the cause of the problem (or at least part of it, as there can be more than one contributing factor), and if the problem is bite related, we can actually take measures to correct it!  This may be something as simple as selective adjusting of the bite, or possibly orthodontics or even a more extensive reconstruction of your bite.  Our goal is to create a single, comfortable bite position.

So, don’t write off clicking as something that has “always been there”.  A clicking joint is not normal, and warrants further investigation!  We have a questionnaire as well as an exam that will help.

If you have jaw concerns, or would like a comprehensive examination of your mouth, please contact us and schedule an appointment!  We would love to be your dentist in Barrie.

Dr. Elston Wong Portrait

About Dr. Elston Wong

Dr. Elston Wong completed his dental degree at The University of Toronto in 1999 before arriving in Barrie in 2002. After graduating, he continued to learn everything he could about dentistry. Now he has taken the time to share important information for anyone to read.

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