Jaw Pain Calgary

Locking jaw or your jaw clicking and clenching?


As with anything you use daily, over time there is going to be significant wear and tear. The same principle applies to your teeth. Practically everything you do requires the use of your teeth and your jaws.

Jaw pain is common among Calgarians and the wear and tear can cause TMJ disorder, or TMJD for short.

Your bite (occlusion) plays an important role

  • Your body has two stabilizing elements that help determine your posture. Two parts that are solid positions. One is the ground we stand on and the other is the position of your lower jaw when you bite your teeth together.
  • These two positions help determine your body’s posture. If the ground is level your hips can be level. If your teeth mesh in a way your jaws, neck and shoulders line up, your upper body is level.
  • Your TMJ is the only joint in the body that has a “Terminal End Point”. A point that cannot be over-flexed or moved past. Teeth are hard. Once your teeth come together, your lower jaw stops moving and that determines how your jaw joint (TMJ) functions. The proper development of your upper and lower jaw and the way the teeth must mesh or occlude together is key to TMJ, Head/Neck, Shoulder/Back alignment.
  • If we stand on a slope, our body must compensate for the unlevelled ground. If your upper and lower jaw growth, tooth position and occlusion are misaligned, your body must compensate as well. Whether it is a sloped floor or a misaligned bite, muscles and bony structures automatically adjust. Your floor will not always be sloped but your bite cannot level itself.
  • The importance of a bad bite (malocclusion) is that your Jaw muscles, Head muscles and Neck muscles can never rest. They are under constant strain. Your TMJ and Cervical (neck) Vertebrae can often not be properly aligned for long periods of time.
  • This is a chronic stress and strain to the body causes varying effects. Some people have little or no signs of symptoms. They can accommodate their strain. Others can have very severe pain problems. Yet others only see changes in their teeth, gum tissue and the bone around the teeth. Some people have migraines, some have sensitive teeth, some have gum recession. Symptoms, intensity, and timing will all vary. It is possible for there to be more ways a malocclusion presents it’s effects than stars in the Milky Way.
  • jaw pain calgary

    Am I just too Stressed?

  • Structural stress, mental stress, physical stress elicit the same response in your body. You tighten up.
  • Many patients complain of clenching and/or grinding their teeth. They may have been told they are too stressed and need to relax. The problem is, stress comes in many forms. It is not only the mounting problems of your day. Stress is also present in your structural balance. This physical strain of your body and causes the same accommodation with muscles and ligaments and tendons as mental stress. This accommodation can be an important factor in clenching and grinding teeth.
  • You can clench and grind your teeth and be totally unaware of it until it causes you pain or it breaks a tooth. Clenching is used to stabilize the body by bringing the lower teeth into contact with the upper teeth. Teeth and jaws also come together each time we swallow (hundreds of times a day). If the alignment of teeth is imbalanced (a malocclusion), you have structural stress. This is why one way to treat TMJ disorders is to provide a balanced bite. It is an attempt to allow yourself to function without as much stress.
  • Let’s face it, telling yourself not to be stressed is not easy and may not be very effective. Stress, either physical or emotional can lead to clenching of teeth. And clenching teeth from stress is only one contributory factor in a TMJ Disorder that often has many many factors present. But while a dentist may not be able to stop all clenching, a balanced occlusion may decrease the clenching and not having to clench will help restore normal function to the jaw muscles, TMJ joint and tooth contact. In other words, make the whole jaw system work in better harmony as opposed to working in disharmony.
  • When you have a misaligned jaw and a subsequent bad bite, the wear and tear on your teeth is significantly more rapid. The erosion of your teeth can lead to uneven tooth wear, loss of range of jaw motion, gum recession and various other symptoms – all connected to TMJ disorder or TMJD.
  • TMJD symptoms – clicking – pain – limitations… What’s going on?

    • Connector.Connector.

      When you bite down, do you experience pain?

    • Connector.Connector.

      Are you restricted with how much you can open your mouth?

    • Connector.Connector.

      When you open your mouth wide – does your TMJ’s pop or click?

    • Connector.Connector.

      Have friends or family members commented on how loud your clicking or popping jaw is?

    If you answered yes to even one of those questions, something isn’t right.

    A healthy and normal TMJ is quiet when it’s working. During eating, chewing, singing, swallowing, talking, and even breathing – you should feel no discomfort or experience anything unusual. The muscles that control your jaw should work in harmony, allowing you to open and close your mouth both smoothly and silently.

    If you notice a constant clicking, popping, and snapping when you engage in everyday activities, something isn’t right. Clicking, popping and pain are indicators that your jaw joint may be unstable.

    jaw pain

    Jaw popping and your TMJ – pop goes your disc

  • You have a disc of thickened ligament inside your jaw joint which keeps the lower jaw bone and the skull from rubbing together. With a malocclusion or unhealthy bite, this disc can be compromised over time and no longer sits where it should.
  • When the disc out of place, the joints end up rubbing together, causing the clicking and popping sound you hear (disc displacement and your TMJ). Sometimes, it is loud enough to be heard by other people. Sometimes it hurts and limits the amount your mouth can open.
  • When your jaw is misaligned and not properly supported by your occlusion, it can be limited in its range of motion. You could be at a friend’s dinner party and suddenly you can’t open your mouth wide enough to eat. When you yawn or talk, you feel as though you need to help support your jaw.

    If you suffer from TMJD, the ability to open your mouth fully or widely can be limited and painful.

    There is a Muscle – Tooth War inside your head

    When your teeth bite in one spot but your muscles and jaw joints want to sit in another for balance and comfortability, you set tension within the jaw system. It is a WAR, between the stability of biting together and the happiness of the soft structures like the jaw muscles and the jaw joint.

    In this WAR, one of 3 things can happen

    1. If your muscles are winning they will tell you to grind your teeth to a less strained bite position and you have rapid tooth wear
    2. If your teeth win they tell the muscles to work harder and keep clenching and you will have muscle tension and stress along with headaches and other TMJ problems but your teeth will not be worn down.
    3. Or worse: you will experience a combination of both and you have rapid tooth wear and muscle tensions and spasms

    Jaw misalignment and teeth wear greatly influence the appearance of your face. A poorly aligned jaw creates deterioration of your teeth, causing them to look crooked or show the wear and breakdown of constant grinding.

    Are you taking a nail file to your teeth?

    Sounds like a ridiculous question. But dentists often see teeth that have been worn in such a way that unless you are using a nail file on them you must be causing excess wear by grinding the upper and lower teeth together. Now we assume that you are not using a nail file but the fact remains that teeth are showing too much wear. This is your body’s neuromuscular response to a misaligned bite (malocclusion).

    The wear on teeth is slow, you are consciously unaware of it and it can eventually destroy your teeth. “I don’t think I grind my teeth” is a common comment from our patients. But what the patients do not realize is that the grinding does not require conscious thought to happen. In fact, the grinding takes place due to a neural loop from the teeth to the brain stem and back to the muscles of the head and neck. This grinding happens at the same level as blinking your eyes or swallowing saliva. You do not have to be aware of it for it to happen.
    Many professionals mistakenly think that tooth wear takes place at night and never during the day. But in reality, our teeth rarely touch at night. This wear pattern is a daytime function happening below our conscious level.

    Are your teeth chipping or getting loose? Imagine backing your car every morning and you bump the fence along the driveway with your bumper. You don’t hit it hard but you hit it every day. What will happen with that fence? Well, at some point the posts will snap or the fence will tip and become loose. Now imagine that you are banging your teeth day and night, just a little but all the time. What will happen? The teeth will break or become loose over time. This constant banging of the teeth can be a long-term problem. In turn, it can damage your teeth, gum tissue and jaw bone.

    Mind and Body Connection


    TMJD’s impact can shorten your teeth causing…

    • Changes in the shape of your lips
    • Wrinkles and creases to form and deepen on the sides of your mouth and nose
    • The appearance of jowls on the sides of your jaw

    Jaw Pain Calgary Care


    Are you experiencing some of these problems … or worse, all of them? We encourage you to talk to Dr. Westersund about TMJD treatment options and jaw pain Calgary care. Learn how we can relieve your jaw pain and TMJ treatments can improve your well being. Preventing serious issues caused by TMJD early is important for your health.  Schedule a consultation or call us at 403 262-9898 today.