After you have been working out, you may have noticed that you have some jaw pain. At first, you may have tried to ignore it, but now it seems to be getting worse. If you think about it, you have probably been clenching your jaw during some of the exercises.
The Jaw Joint
The jaw joint, also called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), is located right in front of your ear. You can feel the joint move when you open or close your jaw. This joint can be a source of jaw pain for many people when it is over-exerted.
Overworking the TMJ
Placing stress on your jaw joint over a period of time can result in ongoing pain. This can easily occur during a workout if you are straining and grit your teeth just before you do an exercise requiring additional strength.
Sometimes, jaw clenching is done deliberately before certain exercises. If you have jaw pain, you will want to avoid stressing your jaw muscles when you exercise in order to get some TMJ pain relief.
When you have jaw pain, you may also have pain in your neck, back, and shoulders. All these muscles are connected. Treating the muscles involved in jaw pain may also help to bring relief to other areas.
An Abscessed Tooth
An infected tooth may also be the cause of TMJ pain. When the inside of a tooth becomes infected, the infection can spread to the gums at the root of the tooth. This is called an abscessed tooth. During a workout, the blood flow increases, and this can cause more inflammation. The infection can spread inside your gums to other parts of your mouth and may cause jaw pain. When a tooth becomes abscessed, it needs to be treated quickly by a dentist because it can spread far enough to become fatal.
When you are not drinking enough water, it can also cause jaw pain. Hydration is needed to keep your joints moving smoothly because water helps keep them lubricated. When you are somewhat dehydrated, clenching your teeth while exercising can easily aggravate your TMJ.
Grinding or Clenching Your Teeth
Another cause of TMJ pain is grinding or clenching your teeth while you sleep. Some people will clench their teeth during the day, and this also puts a lot of stress on the jaw joint. As a result, you not only end up with jaw pain, but you also have damaged teeth.
The jaw, like any other muscle, needs to be properly exercised. When you continuously clench your teeth or grind them at night, this limits their movement and overstresses a few muscles in your jaw – but not all of them. One way you can help to reduce the TMJ pain is to start doing jaw exercises – slowly at first.
Diagnosing Teeth Grinding
Many people who grind their teeth at night are not even aware of the problem. A dentist will be able to recognize this habit easily just by looking at the teeth. They will usually be ground down until they are shorter than usual, more worn than usual, and there may be cracked or chipped teeth. They may also have a problem with sleep apnea since these problems often go together.
Sleep apnea is a breathing problem caused by irregular breathing while sleeping. The breathing will stop a few or many times a night – possibly even 100 times per hour in more extreme cases. Usually, a bed partner will notice.
If you have been told that your breathing stops at night, you need to see a dentist. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious problem. Besides leaving you excessively tired all day long, it can also cause you to develop problems with:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart attack
- Liver problems
Sleep apnea needs to be correctly diagnosed before treatment because there are three different kinds and they will vary in severity. This will mean getting a sleep test, and the dentist can refer you to one.
Going to a dentist for an evaluation of your jaw pain is a good idea. A TMJ dentist can check your teeth for an infection and look at your teeth to check on whether or not you grind your teeth.
The dentist can provide you with a customized mouth guard to protect your teeth while you sleep. You can also get a customized oral appliance to help with sleep apnea, which will not only keep your air passageway open for better oxygen levels, but it will also enable you to get better quality sleep.
If you experience jaw pain when working out, you can get an evaluation and TMJ treatment from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, ToothHQ Dental Clinic. He can help you get TMJ pain relief. A variety of solutions are available, depending on the cause. He has offices in the Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Mockingbird/SMU and Grapevine, TX areas. Tooth HQ accepts all major dental insurance.