There are several different types of jaw disorders. They range in cause from stress to underlying severe medical issues. There are three main categories of jaw disorders, and specific diagnoses fall into these categories. The treatment for a jaw disorder varies, based on the specific patient and the underlying source of the jaw problem.
Perhaps the most common is pain in the jaw muscles themselves. It sometimes takes patients some time to determine that it is, in fact, the jaw that is causing them problems, because the pain is most commonly located on the cheek, right in front of the earlobe, which is where the jaw attaches to the skull. From there, the pain can spread up the face to the temple or down the jaw, eventually causing severe pain in some cases.
This can be caused by many things. The most common source of muscle pain is overly tensed muscles, which in turn are generally caused by unusually high stress levels. The treatment is to avoid chewing as much as possible, and the patient is advised to focus on soft foods and avoid chewing gum, while working to relax the muscles, via the use of stress reducing techniques, massage and if necessary, muscle relaxants.
Another source of issues in the jaw is injury to the jaw itself. Such injuries include dislocation of the joint and fractured jaw bones. These injuries can occur in a variety of settings, including car accidents and sporting accidents, and require professional, expert treatment to resolve. Left untreated, these injuries can produce long-term problems for the patient.
Treatment of these injuries requires an expert. Most patients will likely see an orthopedist to evaluate and treat their condition. The recovery period for a patient with a fracture jawbone can be unpleasant, as immobilizing the joint while allowing the patient to open and close their mouth to take nourishment is difficult. Dislocations are uncomfortable to fix, but the recovery period is much shorter compared to a jaw fracture.
Finally, some jaw disorders are a result of arthritis. Arthritis is a degenerative condition that causes the joints of the body to swell and become inflamed. There are several kinds of arthritis that can cause pain in the jaw, and treatment for these conditions is the same as all other arthritis treatments. The patient will take anti-inflammatory medication, either over the counter or prescription, in order to reduce the swelling and accordingly reduce the pain.
There are many conditions that can cause or exacerbate jaw disorders, including chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. These conditions need to be treated themselves for the patient to see any positive improvement in their jaw pain. Unfortunately, these conditions have few viable long-term treatment options, making them extremely unpleasant for their sufferers.
Understanding the types of jaw disorders is the first step in treating potential issues.