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Does Yawning Make Your Jaw Hurt?

Published on December 16, 2021
As a Certified Specialist in Orthodontics, Dr. Mario Chorak doesn’t just make amazing looking smiles, he also deals with the bite as a whole…including the jaw. If you touch your face right in front of your ear while opening and closing your jaw, you will feel your temporomandibular joint at work. When your temporomandibular joint working as it should, you can yawn or take a big bite of your favorite food without any issues. When your temporomandibular joint is off, yawning and opening your mouth wide can cause serious pain.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone on either side of the face. This joint is capable of hinging and sliding motions, allowing us to shift our jaw side to side and forward and back when doing things like chewing, yawning, and talking.

While people often refer to problems with the joint as TMJ, that is the name for the joint itself and TMJ pain is actually a TMJ disorder and part of a larger category of temporomandibular disorders (TMD). TMD involves the temporomandibular joint or its associated structures, such as the discs, muscles, cartilage, and ligaments.

The most common TMD symptoms include:

  • Popping or clicking when you open and close your mouth 
  • Pain and tenderness in the jaw, face, neck, or shoulders 
  • Jaws that get stuck or locked in an open or closed position 
  • A decrease in jaw mobility leading to trouble opening your mouth fully 
  • Muscle spasms around the jaw 
  • Frequent headaches, earaches, pressure, and pain behind the eyes

Left untreated, TMD can lead to inflammation, swelling, or chronic pain. It can also contribute to progressive dental problems, such as premature tooth wear and periodontal disease.

Treatment of TMJ disorders depends on the cause. Custom nightguards or oral splints can be an excellent way to get relief without medication. If TMD is due to malocclusion or an imbalance in bite forces, braces or Invisalign can align the teeth and jaws, which repositions the temporomandibular joint and surrounding structures.

There are other issues that can be caused by symptoms experienced with TMD, such as tooth decay and gum disease. That is why it is important to receive a proper diagnosis and the appropriate treatment from an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Chorak. If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms associated with TMD, give one of our conveniently located offices in Fairwood and Mercer Island a call today.


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