Think of your absolute favorite food. Perhaps it’s a juicy hamburger, or a crunchy salad, or maybe you have a sweet tooth for Tootsie Rolls! Whatever it may be, you couldn’t imagine your life without it. And why should you have to, right? Unfortunately, a lot of people struggle with jaw pain that prevents them from eating their favorite foods. 

What should you look for?

As you’re eating, you may notice some discomfort. Most of the time, people overlook it as a sore tooth or a bite gone wrong. We tend to ignore these initial warning signs because we don’t always see the jaw as being an important part of our body. This is a common misconception! Take note of your discomfort the next time you bite into that burger. Are you experiencing headaches, pain while chewing, clicking or locking of the jaw? You may have something called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). Try to jot down any foods in particular that you’re experiencing pain with while eating. This will help your doctor determine the severity of your case. 

Temporomandibular joint disorder

TMD can prevent you from eating all of your favorite hard or chewy foods. The pain and discomfort it causes can vary, but the most common symptoms are clicking and locking of the jaw, and general pain while chewing. The temporomandibular joint is responsible for keeping your jawbone connected to your skull. This connection is commonly described as a sliding hinge. When things aren’t functioning as they should, the pain will arise. It’s important to catch it in the early stages, so your pain does not continue to increase. 

There is hope, after all! 

Don’t worry, you will not have to drink smoothies for the rest of your life! TMD is not a death sentence for your favorite foods. There are many treatments available to help ease the pain of TMD. Ranging from medications to bite guards, to physical therapy, there is a solution for you! Medications can help to decrease the inflammation, bite guards can train your mouth to rest either when sleeping or in between meals, and physical therapy can help to increase muscle performance. It is important to talk to your doctor to decide which treatment plan is best for you. 

Contact Dr. Sara at AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions in Scottsdale to learn more about your risk for TMD and what treatment options are available.