A tooth that aches in the morning can result from teeth grinding during sleep. Teeth clenching can usually be treated. Are you troubled by a jaw popping or jaw clicking sensation, or jaw pain when you eat? You may be suffering from a dental problem that has nothing to do with teeth or gums. We call it TMJ disorder.
TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge attaching your jaw to your skull. Temporomandibular Joint syndrome usually means that there's a misalignment within the network of muscles, bones, and joints that make up this hinge. When your hinge isn't coming together as it should, the jawbone grates on sensitive tissues and other bones. Sometimes the pain can be intense and cause a migraine headache. Sometimes the jaw popping is merely annoying.
Regardless of pain level, you should be concerned. It's important to have a thorough evaluation, before permanent damage is done, especially since TMJ syndrome can often mimic symptoms of other medical problems (sinus infections especially) and escape identification.
Every TMJ case is unique. But your dentist probably has plenty of experience treating this common disorder. His or her response may be minor tooth reshaping, mouth splints, or possibly muscle relaxants. Sometimes a simple massage is effective to control pain. Only in rare cases is there a need for surgery to correct TMJ disorder.
If you feel you're experiencing symptoms of TMJ syndrome, please call your dentist immediately. He or she can provide a thorough evaluation and recommend corrective measures, before the problem escalates.