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A Dental clinic look after more than teeth and gums. Our mouth is an interconnected system, and will only function correctly when all the parts of that system work well both in isolation and in combination. Part of this interconnected system is the jawbones. We need our jaw to function correctly if we are to speak, eat and sleep adequately.
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Some of us suffer a ‘click’ or pain when we move our jaw. This is termed temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Occasionally this is the symptom of something serious, but usually the problem is only an inconvenience, and will not grow any worse.
Our jaws should work as a matched, symmetrical system. But not everything in nature is perfectly symmetrical. If there is asymmetry in the muscles or bones of our jaw, if one side is out of alignment, then we might be left with a click of pain in one side of the mouth.
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Jaw alignment problems might have one of several different causes.
• Jaw problems might be genetic – we were born slightly misaligned.
• The jaw may have suffered an injury. An impact one side of the face may cause an alignment problem.
• Always using the same side of the mouth to chew can cause jaw problems, though this is usually not too severe.
• An injury or recent dental problem might cause us to favour one side of the jaw when chewing. E.g.: impacted wisdom teeth may cause us to chew on the other side of the mouth.
• Poor teeth alignment or a single protruding tooth might cause us to chew on one side of the mouth.
• Stress or migraine headaches can cause us to clench our teeth, especially when sleeping. This can lead to misaligned jaws.
• A poorly aligned neck of back might start to push the jaws out of alignment.
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A dentist can advise on the best way to help a jaw alignment problem.
• A mouthguard to prevent tooth grinding ,especially at night
• Orthodontics to realign the teeth and jaw.
• Simply chewing on the other side of the mouth will remove or reduce the problem. This will take a month or two.
• Chewing gum, and chewing on the other side of the mouth, can be quite beneficial.
• Fixing neck of back problems can help some patients, often quite dramatically.
• Jaw surgery is occasionally used for severe, long term problems.
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Have any jaw problems checked by the dentist. The issue is not usually serious, and the solution may simply be developing some better chewing habits.