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2232 W Armitage Ave,
Chicago, IL 60647

Why Does My Jaw Ache and Feel Tight?

Woman in pain holding her cheekYour jaw actually has two hinges that are called TMJ, or temporomandibular joints. They are located right next to your ears, and they are what allow you to move your mouth fluidly whenever you eat, speak, laugh, or smile. Sometimes, whether because of stress or injury, these joints can become misaligned and cause a wide variety of issues that are generally referred to as TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder. If you suffer from a stiff or painful jaw, chronic headaches, or neck and shoulder pain, read on below to learn more about this condition and how we can help.

Do I Have TMD?

X-ray of skull and jaw bone

TMD can be caused by a wide variety of factors, but it’s typically due to stress, injury, strain, or arthritis. If you are suffering from TMD, there are a few key symptoms you can use to identify it:

  • Stiff or painful jaw
  • A jaw that constantly pops and clicks
  • A jaw that becomes locked opening or closing
  • Unconscious teeth grinding
  • Chronic migraine headaches
  • Frequent earaches
  • Neck or shoulder pain

Some TMD patients even suffer from back pain because of this condition! If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you can get a proper diagnosis from Dr. Jerry Bock. He’ll test your jaw’s range of motion, and if you do indeed have TMD, he can recommend a variety of treatments.

If it is likely caused by stress, we may suggest that you actively stretch and relax your jaw muscles during the day or apply heat right before you go to bed. If the condition is a little more complicated, we may choose to utilize something called an occlusal splint.

What is an Occlusal Splint?

Hand holding an occlusal splint

An occlusal splint is an orthotic device that is used to help realign the muscles and joints of the jaw in order to relieve the symptoms of TMD. It is a small, custom-made mouthpiece that you’ll only need to wear to bed, and it’ll help position your jaw into a much more relaxed and natural orientation. After a few months, many patients can stop wearing the device, but for some, they may have to continue to keep seeing results.

If your jaw is constantly sore or if you’re suffering from chronic pain and can’t figure out why, TMD may just be the culprit. To start getting relief today, please contact us to make an appointment.