We get asked from time to time, “Why is my jaw numb? Numbness in your face or jaw is always a cause for concern. There are a number of conditions that may cause you to experience numbness in your jaw, but one of the most common is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). If you’re experiencing numbness or pain in your jaw, it is important that you visit your dentist for an evaluation as soon as possible to prevent any damage to your teeth, gums, and jaw.
Symptoms of TMJ
TMJ can have a number of symptoms in addition to numbness around the jaw, including:
- Pain around the temporomandibular joint on both sides
- Neck pain
- Shooting facial pain
- Pain when yawning or chewing
- Locking or clicking of the jaw
- Trouble when opening the mouth
- A change in the way the teeth fit together
Causes of TMJ
TMJ can have a number of causes:
- Myofascial – this type of TMJ occurs when changes occur in the muscles of the jaw, and may cause pain similar to fibromyalgia. It may also happen following oral trauma caused during a vehicle accident or collision.
- Structural – this type of TMJ occurs when the joint is dislocated or one of the bones has been broken, usually during a significant trauma.
- Degenerative – as with any other joint, degenerative arthritis can happen in the temporomandibular joint as well. This is more common in patients who have experienced a previous facial injury.
- Congenital – there are some congenital syndromes that can cause facial deformities affecting the joint.
The type of treatment you receive for TMJ will depend on the type of TMJ that you’re experiencing and its cause. In some cases, it may be a simple matter of restricting your diet to soft foods and treating the area with heat or ice at the joints. In other cases, you may need splints to help temporarily stabilize your jaw. In more serious cases of TMJ, you may require surgery or permanent splints to help keep your joint in place.