Jaw Conditions and How to Distinguish Between Them

The jaw is vital in order to perform several major human functions, including eating and speaking. There are several medical conditions that may affect the jaw, and each one possess characteristics which set it apart from the others.  If you are experiencing trouble chewing or pain in your jaw, you may have a jaw conditions.

Broken/Dislocated Jaw

This one literally refers to either a break or dislocation of the jaw bone. A broken/dislocated jaw is most often caused by trauma to the face, and the major symptoms include:
·             severe stiffness/pain in jaw
·             facial swelling/abnormal appearance
·             difficulty opening and closing mouth
·             bite that feels “off” (teeth do not line up properly)
Treatment for a broken/dislocated jaw involves immediate medical attention. Your mouth may need to be wired closed to hold your jaw in place while it heals.
Bruxism
Bruxism refers to habitual teeth grinding and/or jaw clenching, often occurring involuntarily while the affected individual is asleep. A few causes of this condition involve stress, diet, and poor tooth alignment. Symptoms include:
·             painful jaw/face
·             insomnia
·             sensitive teeth
·             headache/earache
Bruxism is most commonly treated with splints or mouth guards.
TMJ Disorder
This disorder involves the tempromandibular joint (TMJ), which connects the lower jaw to the skull. TMJ disorder has many causes, including misaligned teeth, structural problems of the jaw, bruxism, and past facial trauma. According to a professional from Jensen Orthodontics in Nova Soctia, some of the symptoms include:
·             pain in jaw/face
·             difficulty opening/closing mouth
·             clicking/popping sound
·             uncomfortable bite
Hot compresses, mouth guards, and OTC pain relievers are the most common treatments. Surgery is necessary only in the most extreme cases.
Osteonecrosis of Jaw
Osteonecrosis occurs when bones break down due to a lack of blood supply. Causes are unknown but are linked to cancer treatments and other toxic agents. Symptoms include:
·              inflammation/pain
·             lesions
·             exposed bone
Common treatments are medicines and surgery.
Micrognathism
Micrognathismrefers to an abnormally small lower jaw. At times, micrognathism may interfere with infant feeding, during which special feeding nipples can be used. This condition generally corrects itself during human growth and development.
Prognathism
Prognathism occurs when the lower jaw outgrows the upper, often referred to as an “under bite.” This condition gives the appearance of an extended chin and can cause misaligned teeth. Treatment involves a combination of orthodontics and orthodontic surgery.
The jaw has proven to be a very complex part of the body. Things can go wrong, and it is important to be able to differentiate between conditions in order to seek the proper treatment and ultimately lead a healthy life.

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