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Questions about Joint Pain
- My joints often hurt when I bite down – why might this be?
- I have noticed a clicking of the joints when I open and close, which is a little annoying – what is going on?
- I have been told I have arthritis in these joints – what can be done about that?
- When I move my jaw from side-to-side, there is always pain in the joint opposite the direction I’m moving – what is going on?
- Should I go to a dentist or a doctor to see about joint pain?
Answers about Joint Pain:
- My joints often hurt when I bite down – why might this be? Pain is often associated with inflammation. In you case something may have triggered an inflammatory response in your joint. This could be a form of arthritis, or it could be trauma to the joint caused by impact, or repetitive movement while biting hard, or it could be a deterioration of the disc of the joint, which is designed to cushion between the bony condyle of the lower jaw (mandible) and socket of the upper jaw (the maxilla). And, while likely, don’t always assume that the condyle pushes down into the socket when biting down on your teeth. In fact, depending on the occlusion between the teeth of both arches, it may be that the condyle lifts AWAY from the socket when you bite down. This distraction of the joint causes more movement against the disc than it is designed to manage, so an inflammatory process can start as a consequence of this as well. Bottom line – there are many reasons your joint might be in pain, and your dentist or your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) specialist will be required to diagnosis the situation…………………BACK to questions
- I have noticed a clicking of the joints when I open and close, which is a little annoying – what is going on? It may be that as you open wide and the condyle of the joint MOVES down a bony slope toward the front of the head, the disc, which is supposed to move with it, doesn’t quite keep up. If the condyle gets to the edge of the disc it might make a “sound” which you more feel than hear, as it pops off and off the disc border. This is another possible source of inflammation and pain, but may also just give rise to an annoying click…………………BACK to questions
- I have been told I have arthritis in these joints – what can be done about that? This needs to be addressed by a TMJ specialist and a rheumatologist. There are various types of arthritis, with various severity of impact on your joints. If the TMJ is involved, it may just require occasional prednisone injections to calm the inflammatory process which is out of control, or if there is enough erosion and damage to the joint, both the disc and the bony condyle and/socket, it may be that joint replacement is called for. Your specific needs can only be diagnosed by an experienced professional in both the dental and medical areas…………………BACK to questions
- When I move my jaw from side-to-side, there is always pain in the joint opposite the direction I’m moving – what is going on? As you move your jaw to the left, for example, the left joint simply rotates, whereas the right joint needs for the condyle to move along a circumferential path. This larger movement requires the right condyle to slide down the bony slope of the joint socket toward the front of the head. This larger movement between the condyle and the bony slope requires that the disc between them move to keep up. If it does not, or the disk is damaged or rough, or the area is inflamed, then pain will ensue with the larger movement. As the left side simply rotates it is not as likely to put increased pressure on inflamed tissues…………………BACK to questions
- Should I go to a dentist or a doctor to see about joint pain? Your dentist. He/She will not likely be able to help you with the subtleties of joint pain causes and solutions, but he can certainly refer you to a TMJ specialist, even to a dental school that has a TMJ training department. From the specialist in the dental field you may also involve a physician that specializes in working with dentists on such problems – a rheumatologist or an orthopedic surgeon perhaps…………………BACK to questions