Jaw problems such as aching, clicking and even locking are common. Typically, they relate to over-activity in the chewing muscles. Sometimes this is related to habits such as chewing gum or clenching the teeth, that we are aware of and can stop. In other cases it relates to grinding, or clenching our teeth when we are asleep. These subconscious habits when sleeping are often related to stress.
These pain conditions of the jaw are known as 'TMJ disorder' because they relate to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the muscles that move it. The associated pain can even radiate down the neck and up to the head. Treatment can be as simple as understanding what is causing the problem in your case and taking simple measures to relax your chewing muscles. Examples include temporarily avoiding wide mouth opening, ceasing to chew gum, or to use a heat pack on the sore muscles. When 'TMJ disorder' does not resolve with simple 'jaw resting', it is best to have a special night guard made. This is a plastic cover for your teeth which helps the chewing muscles relax during the night. A night guard has the additional role of protecting your teeth from chipping and wearing due to ongoing night time clenching or grinding.
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