fbpx Skip to main content

When chewing, yawning, or even just talking does your jaw hurt? Have you been asking yourself, “Why does my jaw hurt when I eat?” Or maybe you’ve noticed you have limited jaw motion?

Jaw discomfort can happen for a few reasons and could result in TMJ pain, a common issue involving your jaw. What’s “TMJ”? TMJ stands for “temporomandibular joint” which is the hinge area that connects your lower jaw to your skull, just in front of your ears. There’s also soft cartilage that cushions the bones of the joint so it can move smoothly and without pain. If you’re experiencing jaw pain in the TMJ, your dentist or family doctor may diagnose you with TMD ( temporomandibular disorder) which covers a range of conditions affecting the joint and the surrounding muscles or ligaments.

Symptoms of TMD include jaw pain, difficulty moving your jaw, and a clicking or popping sound when you chew or open your mouth. At Nest Dental, your East Vancouver dental team understands how these symptoms can impact your daily life, so I, Dr. Sonia Sahi, and our team are here to help with some info and treatment options.

Common Causes of Jaw Pain

Let’s start by talking about some of the most common reasons for jaw pain and TMD.

Misalignment: One of the possible reasons your jaw and TMJ hurts when you’re eating is misalignment of your teeth or jaw. Called malocclusion, misalignment like crooked or crowded teeth or a bad bite can contribute to uneven distribution of force when you’re chewing and biting which can lead to excessive stress and pain in your TMJ.

Teeth Grinding: Teeth grinding, also called “bruxism”, happens more commonly during sleep but it can also happen in the daytime as a stress response. Teeth grinding not only can damage teeth but exerts intense extra pressure on the jaw that can lead to TMJ pain.

Other Repetitive Movements: Are you a frequent gum chewer? A chronic fingernail biter? Do you chew ice a lot? These repetitive movements can cause a lot of stress on your jaw joint and lead to pain.

Arthritis: Degenerative joint diseases like arthritis can affect the TMJ, causing chronic inflammation, cartilage deterioration, and restrict movement.

Injury or Trauma: A direct injury to the jaw or face can cause immediate and lingering pain in the TMJ area. What kinds of trauma can affect the TMJ?

  • A physical blow to the jaw
  • Stretching the jaw from a dental or orthodontic treatment
  • Insertion of tube during a medical procedure
  • A sinus infection

Medication: Some prescription medications for anxiety, depression, and psychosis can affect jaw muscles by causing jaw clenching or teeth grinding.

Relief! A Range of TMJ Treatment Options

Here comes the good news — your dentist has a range of treatments for if your jaw hurts when eating, when chewing, or even when it’s neutral and you have TMJ pain. At Nest Dental, we lean towards starting with conservative TMD treatment options first which, of course, depend on the underlying reasons for your jaw pain.

Treatment recommendations include:

  • At-home care: Hot/cold therapy, eating soft foods, and gentle facial stretches
  • A custom mouthguard: To prevent teeth grinding and ease the pressure on your jaw
  • A TMJ splint: Alleviates the stress on the joint and allows it to heal
  • Physical therapy: Exercises and techniques to strengthen and relax jaw muscles
  • Medication: Anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants to alleviate pain and swelling
  • BOTOX®: Injections that allow the jaw muscles to relax so they can heal

If you have severe TMD, we may talk about:

  • Minor procedures: Cortisone injections or arthrocentesis to flush out debris and inflammatory byproducts
  • Restorative dentistry: Dental implants, crowns or bridges to fix gaps and missing teeth
  • Orthodontics: Invisalign clear aligners to address misalignment issues
  • TMJ surgery: Arthroscopy or open joint surgery, though these are rare

Nest Dental’s Approach to TMD Treatment

You can feel confident your jaw pain will be addressed at Nest Dental. As your Fraser street family dentist, I’m experienced in diagnosing it and take a personalized and multidisciplinary approach to TMD treatment. After all, TMJ pain is a complex issue sometimes caused by more than one thing and is unique to each person.

Our goal is always to address the root cause of your discomfort, help you achieve lasting relief, and improve jaw function. And while you’re visiting with us, you can feel at ease in our high-tech yet soothing office with our compassionate team. As we like to say, a visit at Nest Dental is like a spa day for your smile!

Not Having to Say “Why Does My Jaw Hurt When I Eat?” Again!

Jaw pain doesn’t have to be a part of your life. Understanding the causes and seeking treatment can make a world of difference. If you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ/TMD, contact us at Nest Dental.

Sonia Sahi

Author Sonia Sahi

More posts by Sonia Sahi