Myofascial Pain

Myofascial pain, also known as Temporo-Mandibular Jaw (TMJ) pain, is similar to dull toothache or wisdom tooth pain but is essentially muscular. It is sometimes difficult to locate, and there may be pain in the jaw joint and all the surrounding structures. In acute cases, jaw opening may be limited.

How common is this type of pain?

One in four people at some time may have symptoms. Men and women are affected equally, although women tend to seek treatment more often.

What are its causes?

The most common cause is tooth clenching or grinding, often associated with stress and anxiety. Normally a person is not aware of clenching their teeth. It’s usually something they do when concentrating.

People who grind their teeth might do so during the day or at night. Night grinding while sleeping is more destructive and difficult to deal with.

What causes the pain?

Increased muscle activity in the jaw causes the muscles to get tired and go into spasm, a cramp-like condition.

Our Advice

You can tell if you’re clenching your teeth if your top and bottom teeth are touching. Teeth are normally apart, except when we’re chewing and swallowing.

You can ease the pain by:

  • Eating evenly on both sides
  • Avoiding hard chewing – try soft foods in severe cases
  • Avoiding biting/chewing objects such as pens/pencils and biting your nails
  • Trying not to yawn with your mouth wide open
  • Holding a warm water bottle on the aching side

If you have lost a few back teeth, you might need them replaced to balance and support your bite properly. In severe or chronic cases your dentist can construct an appliance for you to wear on your teeth.
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