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What’s Causing Your Morning Jaw Pain?

Woman with jaw pain.
While many of us wake up with a sore back or neck from sleeping in an odd position, did you know it’s possible to awake to a throbbing jaw?

If this sounds familiar, you may be experiencing symptoms of TMJ or bruxism. While both ailments have similar symptoms, it’s important to distinguish between the two for proper treatment.

Here’s how you can pinpoint the cause of your jaw pain, and how to overcome it.

TMJ vs. Bruxism: Which Is It?

TMJ: Temporomandibular joint disorder is isolated to the nerve tissues and muscles in your jaw. Every day, our jaws do a lot of work! Designed to move up and down as well as side to side, it’s easy to see how misalignment and inflammation in the joint can occur. Sometimes, things like arthritis, stress, autoimmune disease and even an injury can cause TMJ. Other tell-tale signs include:

  • Pain in the jaw and shoulders
  • Teeth grinding
  • Ear pain and neck pain upon waking up in the morning
  • Morning headaches that may remain constant throughout the day

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Bruxism is commonly referred to as teeth grinding, which usually happens unconsciously and during sleep. Typically, this is tied to stress or stressful situations. Common symptoms include:

  • Cracked, chipped or broken and worn teeth
  • Receding enamel and gums
  • Pain in the shoulders, jaw, neck and even ears

Getting Relief

Thankfully, both disorders can be treated successfully and typically without the need for surgery. Teeth grinders and TMJ sufferers sometimes find a gentle jaw massage before bedtime loosens the muscles and joint to reduce clenching. Others find relief with a custom mouthguard, which we can fit you for in the practice.

Let’s get to the bottom of your jaw pain—contact us to book an appointment today.

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