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Certain issues that arise in our mouths, like ulcers, may seem common and of no real concern. However, one expert has warned that even the most seemingly harmless symptom could be a sign of a bigger problem. And difficulty moving your jaw, as well as jaw pain could be one such sign.
Doctor Rizwan Mahmood, from Rüh Dental, spoke with Express.co.uk to explain more.
He said: “Being aware of your oral health is of huge importance. `
“There are a lot of seemingly common symptoms that can often be left ignored for a long time which could actually be a sign of more serious underlying health problems.
“Mouth ulcers are incredibly common but if you have an ulcer that doesn’t seem to be going away, you should speak to your dentist or GP to get it checked out as it could be caused by something more troubling.
“Pain or difficulty swallowing, teeth becoming loose or difficulty moving your jaw are some other symptoms that could signal gum disease or even mouth cancer.”
Causes of jaw pain
Pain when you open your jaw could be a sign of a disorder.
“Jaw pain is often caused by a disorder called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD),” Dr Mahmood said.
“TMJ dysfunctions occur when there is an imbalance of muscles, ligaments and bones in the jaw area.
“This results in pain, popping and clicking noises when opening the mouth wide, difficulty chewing or speaking clearly, facial swelling, headaches or neck aches.”
However, it could signal something else.
He said: “Other factors that contribute to this condition include stress, teeth grinding, arthritis or some type of trauma to the face or jaw area.
“Jaw pain can also be attributed to dental problems such as severe gum disease, tooth decay or dental abscesses. In rare instances it can be a sign of more serious issues such as cancer.
“This is all examined during the process of a regular dental examination which is why it is important to attend at least every six months.”
If you think you may have TMJ dysfunction or TMD, physical therapy could be the solution.
Dr Mahmood said: “Physical therapists use hands-on techniques such as soft tissue massage to relieve tension and reduce inflammation in the area around the jaw joint.
“They will also give you exercises to do at home that will help reduce muscle tightness and improve your range of motion in the jaw area. This will help reduce pain and could improve stability in the joint overall.”
He continued: “In addition to physical therapy treatments for TMD/TMJ dysfunction, seeing a dentist can also be helpful.
“The dentist may recommend wearing a special mouthguard overnight which can absorb the stress and pressure that is put on the joints and muscles by clenching and grinding teeth which you may be unaware of.
“In more serious cases where physical therapy isn’t enough to provide relief from symptoms, surgery may be recommended; however this should only be considered after all other treatment options have been exhausted.
“If you’re experiencing difficulty moving your jaw and think it might be due to TMJ/TMD dysfunction then don’t hesitate to seek professional help.”
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