Three Common Causes Of Morning Jaw Pain

Do you wake up each morning with an aching jaw? Instead of just dealing with the pain, it's important to get to the bottom of what is causing it. Some conditions that cause morning jaw pain will only get worse if you do nothing about them, so it's important to think a bit more about your symptoms and talk to your dentist. Here's a look at three possible causes of your morning jaw pain.

Teeth grinding.

Many people grind or clench their teeth at night and are never aware that they're doing this. This grinding puts a lot of pressure on your jaw, so when you wake up, you experience soreness. It's important not to ignore tooth grinding, since it can cause premature tooth wear and lead to arthritis of the jaw. Have a friend watch you sleep and tell you if you grind your teeth, or record yourself sleeping on your webcam or phone. If you do find that you're grinding your teeth at night, your dentist can make you a mouthguard to prevent this behavior and protect your teeth and jaw.

Misalignment of the TMJ.

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the place where your lower jaw meets with the temporal bone, which is located near your ear. Sometimes, this joint becomes misaligned. When this occurs, you may wake up with a sore jaw after your jaw is forced to rest in a strange position all night, thanks to the misaligned joint. People with TMJ disorders also often experience headaches and ear pain.

There are many contributing factors to TMJ misalignment, so a visit to the dentist is in order if you suspect you might have this condition. He or she may adjust your bite to ensure your jaw aligns more appropriately or recommend a mouthguard to promote better alignment. Sometimes, a visit to the chiropractor may be in order to "pop" your jaw joint back into place.

Arthritis of the jaw.

If you are an older adult, it is possible that you are developing arthritis of the jaw. After you don't move your jaw all night, the symptoms are at their worst – then your jaw loosens up as you move it more. If your jaw feels warm to the touch and sometimes looks swollen when you awake, these are indications that arthritis is to blame. While there is no cure for arthritis, the symptoms can be managed with anti-inflammatory medications and by doing certain jaw stretching exercises, especially before bedtime. Your dentist can diagnose arthritis with an x-ray and tell you more about which treatments are right for you, depending on the severity of the condition.

For more information, visit a local dental office, such as Pacific Ave Dental/Allan L. Hablutzel, DDS.