Jaw pain and clicking

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Jaw pain and clicking

Sore and clicking jaws are a common problem with see at SHDC.  Patients will often present with jaw pain in their cheek muscles and jaw joints, sometimes accompanied by clicking or even locking of the jaw when they open and close, seemingly out of the blue!  We call problems of the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, Temporomandibular Disorders or TMD.

The bulk of TMD we see if related to excess loading of the joint through clenching, or night grinding.  While some level of subconscious night grinding is natural, most of us will clench during the day, or grind our teeth hard at night when we are stressed.  There seems to be a strong correlation between stress and episodes of grinding.  This can result in tightening and tiring of the muscles that move the jaw, as well as inflammation of the TMJ or jaw joint, which is near the front of the ear.  This can manifest as pain or clicking from the jaw joint, just like a sore, or clicking knee.

The good news is that this can usually be treated easily.  Often simple awareness of day clenching, stress management strategies, hot packs over the sore muscles, soft foods and anti-inflammatory medication when needed, will take care of most cases of TMD.  Sometimes, a physiotherapist is needed to help release any tight jaw muscles.  Dentists can help by making the patient a nocturnal splint or night guard, which is like a kind of hard mouthguard worn over either the upper or lower teeth and acts like a barrier, protecting the teeth and providing feedback to the teeth and jaws to prevent overzealous subconscious grinding.

If you have any concerns about a clicking or sore jaw, please call the practice on 8278 6858 to organise a consultation time.

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