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Dentistry/Jaw problems

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QUESTION: hello,

I do not know if this is considered dentistry or not.

For several years I have had problems with my jaws. There is a tremendous pressure underneath my ears, and whenever I open my mouth, my jaw will pop at the "hinges"

I'm sorry I don't know the correct medical term

Anyway, I brought it up to my doctor a few times and they just shrug it off. It's uncomfortable and my jaw pops every single time my mouth opens and closes. It sounds like I'm chewing on something hard like candy and sometimes it pops loud enough for people around me to hear.

Why does this happen, and if this isn't dentistry, who can I go to about it?

ANSWER: Kayla - You are correct to question what is occurring.  The pressure under the ears, the popping at the "hinges" are all signs of a TMJ problem.  The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the joint in front of the ears, the lower jaw's joint with the skull.  This situation can get worse with a gradual formation of arthritic changes of the joint, causing pain and a problem opening and closing.  Why does this happen?  There are a few different causes, like stress, an unequal bite and or trauma to the jaw.

It is important that you have this evaluated by a doctor skilled in this type of problem.  That type of doctor is a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon.  This is a situation that can usually be corrected and reversed, but the longer you wait the more difficult it is to change.

So find a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon to help get you better.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Can this be caused by the fact I grind my teeth when stressed (and at night) and can it cause migraines? I have suffered from chronic migraines for a very long time as well.

Answer
Kayla - if you grind at night, you are probably producing spasms of the jaw muscles.  These spasms produce headaches in the temple region, tightness opening the mouth and ear aches.  You most likely need a simple appliance (niteguard) to wear at night.  This appliance will begin to relax the muscles after a period of time wearing the appliance.  So you need to see a dentist or surgeon who treats TMJ problems.

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Volunteer


Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired

Expertise

I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and I am available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.

Experience

Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicine for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor and State University School of Dentistry.

Organizations
American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Education/Credentials
BA -University of Connecticut DMD - University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

Awards and Honors
National Honor Society (OKU), Philadelphia County Dental Society, Mosby Book Award, Oral Surgery Honors, Summa Cum Laude

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