My Jaw Is Always Sore: Can You Help?

My Jaws Are Always Sore: Can You Help?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your mandible (jaw) to your skull. It’s a hinge joint, and the hinge is what allows you to yawn, chew, and move your jaw up and down when speaking.

If the TMJ becomes injured or damaged, you may experience a localized, painful condition called temporomandibular joint syndrome or a collection of symptoms called temporomandibular disorder (TMD). With TMD, not only are your jaws sore, but the pain can also radiate into the mouth and head, causing facial pain and leading to headaches and migraine attacks.

At Kiran Rapal, DDS, Inc., Dr. Kiran Rapal and her team offer effective TMJ dysfunction treatments for their patients in the San Francisco Bay area. If your jaw is always sore, here’s why and how we can help.

My jaws are always sore

Unless you’ve had a blow to the jaw or a fall, the exact cause of your jaw soreness and other problems may not be readily apparent. Most likely, it’s due to a combination of genetics, arthritis (joint inflammation), and bruxism (jaw clenching and teeth grinding). Other contributors include stress, poor posture, and repetitive jaw motion, such as chewing gum.

TMJ problems come with a range of symptoms. These include:

If you don’t experience pain, limited range of motion, or jaw locking, you probably don’t require any treatment. If you do experience them, we can help.

How we help sore jaws

TMJ issues can resolve on their own, but you shouldn’t ignore recurrent or chronic pain, as that will further damage the joint and surrounding soft tissues. If your symptoms persist, Dr. Rapal may recommend one or more of the following treatment options.

Medications

We always start with conservative treatments, and the first things to try are OTC pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications to relieve the pain and discomfort; you can complement this by applying an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain. If the combination isn’t strong enough, Dr. Rapal may prescribe prescription-strength ibuprofen or possibly a muscle relaxant to calm spasms that cause pain.

Non-medication treatments

Perhaps the most common therapy for TMD, and one that Dr. Rapal provides, is an occlusal splint (sometimes called a night guard). It’s a custom-made, plastic device that fits over your teeth when you sleep, preventing jaw clenching and teeth grinding as well as protecting your teeth from wear and breaking.

Physical therapy is another good possibility. Dr. Rapal can teach you how to do stretching and strengthening exercises designed for your jaw muscles that will reduce your pain and other symptoms. 

Lifestyle changes

Understanding any bad habits you have that can contribute to TMJ issues is the first step in stopping them. Such habits include stress clenching or grinding, nail biting, pencil chewing, and even leaning your chin on your hand. All contribute to jaw tightness and pain. Eliminating such habits can relax the jaw muscles, giving you relief.

Changing your eating habits can help too. Choose softer foods, cut food into smaller pieces so they fit in your mouth easily, avoid sticky or chewy items, and absolutely eliminate chewing gum.

If your jaw is always sore and you need relief, contact Kiran Rapal, DDS, Inc. to set up a consultation. Call the office at 408-864-7010, or book online with us today.

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