Located in the mouth are two of the most complicated joints in the human body: the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). This joint not only allows the mouth to open, but also for the mandible (lower jaw) to move forward and back, and side to side.
Besides the joints, there are many muscles, ligaments, discs and bones involved in those motions. As time wears on these body parts, sometimes a person can get pain in or near his or her jaw.
This pain is called TMJ disorder or TMD. Dentists are fully trained in analyzing pain in and around the mouth, and they can determine if it is from a cavity, an oral infection, or TMD. TMD can be caused by a large number of scenarios. It can be from arthritis, an impact injury to the jaw, one's bite (alignment of teeth), night-time tooth grinding or stress. Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of TMD, but there are certain treatments for TMJ problems that can make a huge improvement.
TMJ treatments can include massage in the area of the jaw pain to help loosen up the muscles, in addition to a handling of one's poor posture - which can lead to misalignment of the neck and back, which are connected to the jaw muscles. If the dentist determines the pain is a result of poor bite/tooth alignment, braces may be used; tooth reshaping is another popular option. Some dentists will provide pain reducing medicine that will temporarily treat the situation. For certain situations, a dentist may recommend a tooth guard to prevent night-time tooth grinding. Depending on the patient's particular situation, the dentist may recommend a variety of workable solutions.
Kourosh Maddahi, DDS, Los Angeles dentist, will work carefully and thoroughly with you to find the cause of your TMJ and therefore resolve your situation. In the twenty-plus years of practice he has solved many TMJ problems for his patients.