Do you wake with headaches in the morning?
Does eating nuts cause a flare up?
Does your jaw click?
Pain in the face and the jaw is usually diagnosed as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), especially when there are notable restrictions within the TMJ. Orthodontic and dental professionals are among the best learned practitioners regarding the involvement of the muscular system on the TMJ.
Muscular tension and trigger points are almost always present in patients who have TMJ. The muscles which are generally affected are the masseter, pterygoids, temporalis, trapezius, and sternocleidomastoid (SCM). Now for those of you who have not looked at an anatomy book in a while this may look very confusing, but these are the muscles of the head and neck which help you to chew and maneuver the jaw as well as help with some movement of the head and neck.
These muscles will generally cause a flare up when a person with trigger points or excessive tension chews on crunchy things or has the mouth open for long periods such as during long dental procedures.
Most people will also notice tenderness over the jaw joint and in the cheek bones when the muscles are causing problems. This may also be due to a displacement of the disc located in the jaw as well or a combination of both.
In our practice we have been able to successfully help to treat people with facial pain due to the muscles of the TMJ. Many times we use a vapocoolant, which is a preparation which rapidly drops the temperature of the skin briefly so that the muscles come out of spasm and allow us to gently move the joint and surrounding tissue. This is many times referred to as “the spray and stretch technique”.
Pain in the face and jaw can be very frustrating and difficult to deal with. We will do our best to help you work through this condition and will work in conjunction with your dental professional as well.