Facial / Joint / Jaw Pain

Most people who clench their jaws and grind their teeth may be unaware that they do so.

However, these are only symptoms of broader issues that, if not treated, can have major consequences not only for your dental health, but also your entire sense of well-being.

Clenching of jaws and grinding of teeth are often symptoms of a disorder known as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD). Patients who visit us at Shields Dental & Implant Clinic Limerick are professionally assessed by dentists who are highly trained and experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of TMD.

The Shields brothers hold postgraduate qualifications in occlusal studies and are associated with the British Society of Occlusal Studies.

You can read further details about jaw clenching and teeth grinding below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions that patients at Shields Dental have asked us about TMD.

The first way to know if you have TMD is to look for specific symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Pain in your joints (or the joints connecting your jawbone to your skull)
  • Jaw pain
  • Difficulty or painful chewing
  • Pain around your ear
  • Jaw joint locking, so you’re unable to open and close your mouth
  • Facial pain

This isn’t the most noticeable symptom, but some TMD sufferers experience a clicking noise when they open their mouth. It’s also common to experience a grating sensation while chewing.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to see a dentist for TMD treatment.

Your mandible can move and your joints work with a myriad of muscles in your jaw.

Bones interact with the joint. They’re separated by a small, shock-absorbing disk and are covered by cartilage. These bones ensure jaw movements are smooth and healthy.

When TMD sufferers first experience symptoms, the parts connected to the joint are first damaged.

This can be caused by a number of different factors. For example, the disk can erode or get out of alignment. Many people develop TMD if their joints are damaged due to injury.

Other ailments, such as arthritis, leave you at-risk for developing TMD.

Medical attention isn’t always necessary. You can develop symptoms because your joints are overworked and stressed out. Pain and discomfort will go away on their own.

However, there’s a time you need to see a dentist. For example, do you have constant issues opening and closing your mouth? This means your TMJ is causing your joints and jaw muscles to function incorrectly.

Another reason to see a dentist for TMD is if the pain is severe and persistent.

There are many treatments for TMD. Pain medication can help your pain and swelling. If you develop TMD because you clench your jaw, anti-anxiety medication can help relieve your stress so you don’t clench your jaw.

Your dentist may also recommend you eat primarily soft foods to take the chewing stress off of your joints and muscles.

Severe cases may require specialised treatment and devices such as the occlusal splint.