A complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs, and bones help open and close the mouth. Problems that prevent this system from working together properly may result in jaw pain or a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD).
In order to diagnose jaw pain, dentists may take x-rays and make a cast of patient’s teeth to see how the bite fits together. Specialized X-rays for the TM joints are sometimes indicated as well, and depending on the case, dentists may refer patients to physicians or other specialists.
A range of more than 50 treatments from conservative to more aggressive to invasive approaches are used to treat jaw pain. Typical treatment may include stress reducing exercises, muscle relaxants, or wearing a mouth protector to prevent teeth grinding. Although surgery has been tried in severe jaw pain cases, the invasive approach has not generally been proven effective for long-term relief.