Face pain can haunt you many different ways. Maybe you have soreness in your jaw, sometimes one side, sometime both. You might feel a terrible toothache that moves from tooth to tooth so you don’t know which one really hurts.
Perhaps one whole side of your face is in pain; your teeth, cheek, jaw, eye, and ear. Sometimes it feels like an earache. You may even have the sensation that your teeth are going to fall out of your head. However your face pain shows itself, it’s excruciating.
It could be TMJ
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder is a problem that affects an estimated 20-30% of the adult population. It occurs when your temporomandibular joint (the joint that connects your jawbones to your skull), is out of alignment. How does TMJ cause facial pain? Three ways:
Muscles versus jawbones
Your jaw muscles are incredibly strong. If your jaw is misaligned, your powerful jaw muscles make it very difficult for your jawbones to realign. They give it their best shot but the battle often results in tooth grinding and jaw clenching as your muscles win the first round. The discomfort caused by your TMJ is a vicious circle; as the battle rages, your jaw muscles tire, causing stress, strain and pain.
The muscles of your face stretch over the front of your skull like rubber bands. If your jaw is misaligned, your muscles stretch abnormally in some places, and to compress in others. This long-term stressed state can cause a buildup of lactic acid, causing your muscles to cramp. Often, this manifests far from the site of the actual cramped muscle. It’s called referred pain. Just like pulling hair, when your muscle is pulled from one end, it is the opposite end that stretches and feels the pain. The pulled muscle can also stretch the nerves and tissues it’s connected to, sending pain to your eyes, ears, cheeks or teeth.
Your cramping muscles can lead to the scraping and irritation of your facial nerves. This incredibly unpleasant experience can cause electric shocks, throbbing, nausea, and pain that travels up and down your face. That’s why TMJ facial pain is often confused with migraines.
Treat the cause, not the symptoms
Top Down Dental in San Jose and Los Gatos can help you alleviate your TMJ facial pain. By pinpointing your jaw alignment problem and providing treatment to relax your muscles and get your jaws back into alignment. The team at Top Down can help you return to a pain-free life, e-mail us or call (408) 354-5600 to schedule an today.