What is a Jaw Disorder?
Jaw disorders are problems with the set of bones holding your teeth. Your upper jaw is called the maxilla and lower jaw the mandible. Your mandible meets your skull at a point called the temporomandibular joint. Jaw disorders can affect any part of these bones, causing them to dislocate or fracture due to physical impact or another impairment.
What Types of Jaw Disorders Are There?
The most common disorders that affect the jaw are prognathism, temporomandibular disorder (TMJ) and osteonecrosis (ONJ), and primary jaw cancer.
- Prognathism – This disorder relates to the position in which your jaws meet. If your lower jaw is positioned incorrectly, it will cause an under or overbite; in medical terms, a malocclusion.
- Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder -- The TMJ is located between the jawbone and skull, it acts like a hinge. TMJ disorders are usually linked to jaw injuries or arthritis. Others who constantly grind their teeth or clench their jaw develop this condition as well. When the muscles and joints suffer too much pressure, the lower jaw can become dislocated.
- Osteonecrosis (ONJ) – ONJ is a disease that affects both the upper and lower jaws. Legions will appear that do not heal, exposing either jaw bone. This can cause pain, inflammation of the surrounding gums or tissue, infection, and sometimes drainage. If ONJ is not treated, it can spread, infecting more and more of the jaw. Osteonecrosis normally occurs after major dental procedures like tooth extractions, but may happen without warning. Some treatments for osteoporosis have been shown to increase the risk of osteonecrosis.
- Primary Jaw Cancer – Oral cancer and other cancers can sometimes occur within the jaw bones or spread to the jaw. In cancer, malignant tumors infect nearby cells, mutating and spreading the disease. Early signs of jaw cancer are pain and tenderness that may radiate to other parts of the face. As it progresses, so does the pain. Teeth often become loose. The tumors may grow to cause masses within the mouth or around the face. If not treated, cancer can be fatal.
Other jaw disorders are often caused by harmful physical encounters. Many times this occurs in sports and other activities. If you recently dealt with such an event or are suffering from pain and tenderness in your jaw, please see your doctor or dentist in Cambridge.
Live in the Cambridge area and wish to speak with a knowledgeable family dentist for an assessment of your potential jaw disorder?
Give our dentist office in Cambridge a call today for an appointment