Sore Jaw (TMJ)

A sore jaw can be relieved with a mouth guard to wear while sleeping, but related symptoms could be the result of deeper seated problems.

Temporomandibular joint disorder is an umbrella term which refers to chronic pain or inflammation of the temporomandibular joints and or their supporting muscles, which connects the jaw to the skull. Being a joint like any other, it is susceptible to the same conditions as other joints, such as arthritis, trauma, dislocation, ankylosis or developmental anomalies

A sore jaw — or indeed a click or popping sound in the jaw, difficulty biting or chewing — could be the result of grinding and clenching teeth, excessive gum chewing, nail biting or eating unusually hard foods, trauma from injury, lack of overbite, mal-alignment of the occlusional surface, or loss of bite height.

As discussed with grinding and clenching, treatment must deal with the source of the problem that causes the grinding — such as stress — as well as treat the physical damage. Depending on the cause of the problem and the severity of the damage, the solution may involve:

  • A mouth guard to wear while sleeping
  • Mandibular repositioning splints — which like braces manually reposition the jaw
  • Reconstructive dentistry
  • Orthodontics