Jaw tightness is a painful condition in which the muscles in your jaw are constantly tense. Since
your jaw is used in important movements such as speaking and chewing, this can create chronic
pain that ranges from mild to severe.
What can cause jaw tightness? There are several different reasons behind tense jaw muscles
that may be causing your discomfort. By identifying the root of the problem, you can help
alleviate your jaw pain!
You Have a TMJ Disorder
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex joints in the human body. It
connects your upper jaw to your lower jaw and enables your jaw to move up and down and
from side to side.
Since the TMJ is so complex, it’s susceptible to problems. When your joint doesn’t work
properly due to an improper bite, arthritis, or an injury, it can cause chronic pain and jaw
tightness that’s difficult to live with.
Fortunately, there is treatment for TMJ disorders. Your dentist can perform a simple evaluation to determine if your TMJ is being impacted by a disorder and talk with you about treatment.
You Grind Your Teeth
Bruxism, the technical term for teeth grinding, can be immensely damaging to both your teeth and your jaw. Grinding your teeth puts intense stress on your TMJ and your pearly whites. In some cases, bruxism can cause teeth to fracture or completely wear down.
Teeth grinding happens for a variety of reasons, but one of the main causes is stress. In fact,
you may be grinding your teeth while sleeping and not even know it! Your dentist can tell if
your grind your teeth by conducting a simple exam.
If you’re a teeth grinder, you could be putting concentrated pressure on your jaw muscles,
leading to a constant feeling of tightness even when you’re not grinding your teeth.
You Have an Improper Bite
When your teeth don’t fit together properly, this can cause an improper bite, also called a
malocclusion. Malocclusions range from overbites and underbites to open bites and cross bites.
These types of bites range from mild to severe and can all cause jaw pain, especially when
chewing ,speaking, or smiling. Improper bites are usually inherited from your parents and can
fortunately be fixed with orthodontics.
If a malocclusion is causing your jaw tightness, speak with your dentist about what treatment in
the form of orthodontia might look like!
You Have Arthritis
In some cases, jaw tightness may be caused by rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. In fact,
the majority of people with rheumatoid arthritis have some type of TMJ pain, as the
inflammation may impact the joint.
Osteoarthritis is rarer but can happen in the TMJ, where it can cause loss of healthy tissue
including cartilage and will impact the function of your jaw. Both people with rheumatoid
arthritis and osteoarthritis may experience painful jaw tightness.
Are you experiencing jaw tightness that’s impacting your life? A painful jaw can be caused by a
variety of problems from teeth grinding to arthritis and malocclusions. Your dentist can help
you determine the cause of your jaw tightness and work with you to implement a successful