Jaw Disorders

If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, it can hurt your jaw, teeth, gums, and bone structures inside the mouth. The most common jaw problem is with the joint connecting your upper and lower jaw, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Someone with a TMJ disorder can have problems opening or closing the mouth or chewing. The joint can make a clicking or popping sound when it moves, and the person who has a TMJ disorder may have headaches, neck aches, and even tooth sensitivity because of the accumulated effects of too much pressure on the teeth, causing the enamel to develop microcracks.

If someone has a minor TMJ disorder, it is uncomfortable or painful. If the disorder is a major one, the joints may no longer be aligned correctly and the jaws can be dislocated. In the most extreme case, the jaw joint will also have become arthritic.

To treat a TMJ disorder, you might be given aspirin, a muscle relaxant, biofeedback, or a small plastic appliance to wear while you are sleeping that will prevent you from grinding your teeth during the night.