woman yawning for Why Does My Jaw Hurt When I Yawn & Eat blog post

Why Does My Jaw Hurt When I Yawn & Eat

Do you notice joint stiffness, popping, or jaw pain whenever you open your mouth to chew or yawn? If the symptoms are severe, you could have temporomandibular joint disorder. Your temporomandibular joint or “TMJ” is the pair of joints on either side of your mouth, just in front of your ears.

Not everyone with jaw pain, clicking or popping has temporomandibular disorder. Recognizing the symptoms and conditions can help you seek medical treatment promptly. The sooner a dentist can evaluate your jaw, the quicker you can get out of pain. But sadly, the longer you wait to seek out care, the more likely you will experience permanent joint damage.

Why Does My Jaw Hurt When I Eat

Do you feel jaw pain on one side whenever you’re chewing or clenching your teeth? As muscles contract around your TMJ, it can cause tender or overused areas of your jaw joint to exhibit pain and discomfort. Each time your jaw joints open or close, moving parts (like the internal disc) need to glide correctly for the jaw to function properly. Often, an internal condition or overuse – like subconscious clenching – may lead to TMD symptoms (TMJ disorder).

The chances are that you notice the warning signs when you eat because you’re opening and closing repetitively and placing intense strain on your muscles and ligaments. Biting in and of itself exerts some of the heaviest pressure in the entire human body.

Common Causes of Jaw Pain and TMD include:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Trauma or accidents
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stress
  • Overuse (habitual gum chewing, etc.)
  • Bruxism (clenching and grinding)

Any time your TMJ has to move atypically to get your teeth to bite together properly, it strains the jaw. Day after day, atypical joint movement may ultimately lead to jaw pain. In addition to clicking or TMJ pain, your muscles may radiate discomfort throughout your face, neck, shoulders, and back. As such, the causes of conditions like migraines may even be due to a TMJ disorder caused by misaligned teeth.

Oral Health and Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Your TMJ moves hundreds of times a day. Each time you chew, swallow, laugh, or yawn, you move your jaws. But if something is interfering with natural patterns of motion, you’ll need to adjust the way your mouth opens and closes ever-so-slightly. In time, all of those atypical motions can lead to significant pain and disorder inside of your TMJ.

Sources such as stress can be challenging to control. Fortunately, lifestyle changes, exercise, or relaxation techniques can lessen the tension in both your face as well as your overall body. That said, your dental specialist will probably need to take an X-ray of the area to determine if any internal anatomical concerns are at play (like disc deterioration, bone disease, etc.)

TMD Pain Relief Options

Depending on the ultimate cause of your jaw pain, treatment may include over-the-counter pain relievers (such as ibuprofen or Motrin), warm compresses, physical therapy, and massage. If you’re prone to clenching and grinding, some people may even suggest sleeping in a nightguard to reduce the tension. Some healthcare providers prefer injectables like Botox since they act as long-term muscle relaxers. But these don’t treat the problems; they only alleviate jaw discomfort symptoms. A proactive jaw pain treatment plan could even include orthodontic therapy. That way, your mouth doesn’t have to function atypically to get your teeth to bite together.

Misaligned teeth can cause dental problems like jaw pain since the condition causes your jaw muscles to function atypically. When you know that your lower jaw is not meeting the upper one correctly, the pain may catch you off guard. But many dental experts incorporate orthodontic treatment to manage the many symptoms of jaw pain because it holistically focuses on facial pain. Eliminating muscle strain and overuse could naturally ease muscle pain and discomfort associated with TMD.

You probably didn’t know that braces could help your jaw condition. But when you treat the cause of pain at its source, you’re able to avoid extensive medical treatment and surgery. The best way to get started is to surround yourself with a dental team made up of people you know and trust. More often than not, we get caught up in the stress of pain, scrambling for treatment as we look in all of the wrong places. Preventing conditions before they start eliminates serious medical issues later.

When To See A TMJ Orthodontist

Skilled orthodontists can help with facial pain caused by misaligned teeth. If your mouth is offset because of a crossbite or crowding, the cause of the pain may be staring you right in the mirror. Orthodontic therapy like aligners or braces can help with the pain and help prevent it from recurring.

If you often experience pain in your ears, neck, or face, one of the many conditions you need to rule out is TMJ dysfunction. People like a TMJ orthodontist can evaluate the anatomy around your teeth, jaws, face, and joints to pinpoint the origin from where the pain is radiating. If it’s your oral anatomy, your orthodontist is one of the best experts to see for treatment! Many Ottawa dentists refer their patients to us as an alternative to conventional surgical therapies.

One of those people is Dr. Charles Cohen of Braces Haven. As part of your initial exam and consultation, your thorough assessment will look at more than just the alignment of your bite. If you’re suffering from chronic pain and don’t know why, be sure to mention it during your appointment with us. Non-invasive therapies are available!

Ottawa Orthodontic Treatment for TMJ

Are you looking for an orthodontist that treats adults with TMJD? Braces Haven proudly serves our neighbours throughout Ottawa, providing comprehensive traditional braces, TMJ orthodontic cases, and modern removable aligners. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help relieve TMD.