The average person swallows 2,000 times per day, causing the upper and lower teeth to come together and push against the skull. People who have a poorly aligned bite or missing teeth can have related health problems, such as frequent headaches or sleep disorders, because their jaw muscles must work harder to bring the teeth together, straining the surrounding jaw muscles.
This strain, known as orofacial pain, is defined as any pain in or around the face. Some people may experience pain in the ears, eyes, sinuses, cheeks or side of the head, while other experience clicking when moving the jaw.
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is one of the many causes of Orofacial pain. Other causes may include stress, nerve disorders or muscle spasms, tumors in the jaw bone area, oral cancer or referred pain from cardiac disease.
It is highly advised that you inform us at the first sign of discomfort.
Here are some of the symptoms of Orofacial pain.
- Pain behind the eyes
- Sore jaw muscles
- Teeth grinding
- Clicking or popping of joints
- Head/scalp painful to the touch
- Earaches or ringing
- Neck, shoulder or back pain
Orofacial pain may be difficult to diagnose if its origin is not localized in one area. We try to diagnose the pain source by conducting tests to rule out a cracked tooth, the need for root canal, gum disease, teeth clenching or grinding. These factors can cause discomfort in the facial region but can be easily addressed.
Here is your TMD checklist: Please advise us if you have any of these symptoms.
- An earache without an infection
- Jaw pain or soreness that is more prevalent in the morning or late afternoon
- Jaw pain when you chew, bite or yawn
- Clicking associated with pain when opening and closing your mouth
- Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
- Locked or stiff jaw when you talk, yawn or eat
- Sensitive teeth when no dental problems can be found
Diagnosis and treatment for TMD depends on the cause and we will address that in the next article.