What is Jaw Arthritis?
The joint in the jaw is known as the temperomanibular joint (TMJ). The temperomanibular joint facilitates interaction between the lower jaw and the temporal bone in the skull. The arthritis which affects the jaw is called jaw arthritis. The forms of arthritis that hit the jaw and the pain caused are varied.
Problems affecting the muscles and joints of the jaw can cause locking, clicking, jaw pain, crunching, popping, ear ache and headache. Jointly, the range of symptoms is subsumed under the broad term, Temperomanibular Disorsers (TMS). The American Dental Association puts the approximate number of sufferers of TMS to around 10 million.
Many of the symptoms of TMS are as a result of the physical stress put on the temperomandibular joints. Emotional strain also plays a role in leading to joint disorders. The most common reason of TMJ related disorders however is a combination of anatomical problems in the joints and muscle tension.
Poor posture can also be a leading factor for TMS. For instance, leaning forward too close to the computer or television all day can lead to excessive strain on the face and neck muscles. Tightness and muscle pain also results from grinding the teeth (Bruxism) in sleep which usually happens due to psychological or sleep-related stress. Other factors that trigger symptoms of TMJ are poor diet, lack of sleep and inability to relax.
Splint therapy is generally the most effective treatment for jaw muscle tightness and pain. A thin splint made of plastic is adjusted over either the upper or the lower set of teeth to give the patient an even position of jaw. Drug therapy may also be a useful remedy for jaw arthritis. Drugs like cyclobenzaprin may be prescribed to relieve pain and tension in the jaw muscles.