Covid is a word that I think we all want to escape from. It’s been more than two years since we started fighting it. With the sudden exposure to this virus, we all are feeling dreadful. There are unlikely symptoms one gets due to it. One of the symptoms during covid is jaw pain.
While fever, loss of taste and smell, dry mouth, and sores are some common symptoms of COVID. However, there are many people who experienced during covid jaw pain or after taking covid vaccine jaw pain was prominent. In addition, some people are also reporting about jaw and ear pain covid, jaw and teeth pain covid, accompanied with other pains.
Let us explore more about how covid affects jaw pain.
Is Jaw Pain a symptom of Covid?
If we talk about Covid Jaw pain, then it is not a symptom of the virus. So, does covid make your jaw hurt? There is no study that shows that covid causes jaw pain. But, it does affect the jaw joints indirectly. Researchers show that jaw pain is a common disorder that many people face during COVID or post recovery. In addition, some people are also experiencing jaw pain on one side covid or sore jaw one side. So, though it does not directly contribute, some factors related to covid affect jaw pain.
How does Covid cause Jaw pain?
As jaw pain is not a symptom of covid but is seen a lot in people. The reasons behind this are:
Covid has been a stressful time for everyone as most people were suffering from one or another thing. For example, some people had low financial status, many were mentally depressed, and some lost their loved ones. Therefore, people start grinding their jaws, clenching their teeth, and tightening the facial muscles due to stress. As a result, people suffer from jaw pain, headaches, stiff jaw, and dental problems.
Moreover, Dr. Rana Stino says, “People are grinding more, clenching more, and cracking more teeth.” Also, according to the American Dental Association, with the starting of Covid, there has been a 60% increase in patients with clenching and grinding, causing jaw pain.
How to recognize symptoms of covid jaw pain due to stress?
The common signs of jaw pain due to grinding and clenching are:
- Stiffness in jaw
- Ear pain
- Toothache or tooth damage
- Low sleep quality
- Jaw pain and sore jaw
- Increased tooth sensitivity
During or post covid jaw pain is increasing in the patients. Due to the virus, breathing issues are common in people. Therefore, most people breathe through their mouth, and mouth breathing puts extreme pressure on the jaw and neck. This results in excessive pressure on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Therefore, these excessive breathing problems also contribute to the TMJ’s jaw pain.
Quick Treatment to Reduce Jaw Pain
Sometimes, the condition worsens when people suffer from jaw pain but do nothing about it. If you have been experiencing pain for some time now, contact your dentist immediately. However, if it is new, you can do some small things to make your jaw pain better. But you still need to consult your doctor. Therefore, the tips are:
- Do not chew hard and avoid hard foods that make your jaw work more. Otherwise, the jaw pain and situation may get worse.
- Stay hydrated and drink enough water.
- Do not chew foods that need excessive chewing, like gum.
- Apply ice to your sore jaw muscles as this will help in reducing pain
- Further, contact your doctor for better assistance, and they may also provide you with some exercises to strengthen your jaw and neck muscles.
- If you had covid or breathing difficulties, your doctor would advise you the best.
While these tips help you in pain relief and it stops the situation from getting worse. However, medical advice is still recommended.
Are TMJ and TMD different?
There are many people that are confused between these terms. However, that is related but has a huge difference. While TMJ is a joint, TMD is a disorder. Read below to know more about this clearly.
What is TMJ?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is a joint where the jaw and ear meet. Moreover, this joint connects the jaw to the skull. The jaw pain people are ex[erinecing during covid is the temporomandibular joint pain. This joint is affected, and most and due to the connection, most people often experience jaw pain that is accompanied by headaches and ear pain.
TMJ Disorder or TMD causing Covid Jaw Pain
TMD is a temporomandibular joint disorder popularly known as TMD or TMJ disorder. We have read above about the joint, Right? Therefore, now this joint disorder that means a problem or issue in this joint due to damage, displacement, or injury causing pain is a joint disorder. Therefore, TMD is a joint disorder that causes jaw pain and affects the TMJ. The issues in the joint further cause damage and problems that cause pain like headache, ear pain, teeth pain, and a sore jaw.
Types of TMD:
There are the following TMD, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research:
- Degenerative Joint Disease: There is osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in the jaw pain in this disorder.
- Myofascial Pain: Pain in connective tissues that join the neck, shoulder, and jaw. Also, this is one of the common TMJ disorder types.
- Internal derangement of the Joint: In this, there is either injury in the joint, dislocation in the jaw, or jaw displacement. This displacement or damage affects the cartilage cushion that helps in movement or the top of the jaw joint that connects with the skull.
Other symptoms for TMJ disorder:
Apart from jaw pain, several other symptoms accompany this disorder. However, the symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last upto years. If you are not sure about your reason for jaw pain. Check these symptoms below. The other symptoms are:
- Jaw pain, especially in the morning or afternoon
- Ear pain
- Ringing or blocked ears
- Pain behind the eyes
- Jaw pain while chewing
- Clicking of jaw
- Discomfort during jaw opening like yawning
- Stiffness in jaw
- Sensitivity in teeth
- Unexplained headaches
- Shoulder, neck, or back pain
- Teeth hurt while lying down
These are common symp[toms that one may experience when suffering from TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder).
Women and TMJ Disorder
This disorder affects both men and women, but dentists in the united states have seen a significant increase in the jaw pain, especially in women. Also, 9 out of 10 people with jaw pain were women. Therefore, TMJ Disorder is more likely to affect women than men. This is because the women’s jaw anatomy is different from men’s.
Also, hormonal structure plays a role in it. As the women have more stress levels and are more emotional. Especially in the COVID time, women are taking more stress. As a result, the grinding and clenching of teeth are more common in them.
Why do my teeth hurt when I lay down?
Why is TMJ pain worse at night? The TMJ jaw pain is mostly worse at night. Because that is the time, people overthink or are more stressed. Also, people are more likely to clench and grind their teeth at night. So, having jaw pain or even jaw pain on one side can cause difficulties while sleeping. Moreover, TMJ disorder can also cause sleep apnea, snoring, or other sleeping disorders.
According to dentists, sleeping on your side or your hand under your head, sleeping on your stomach can make the condition worse. Therefore, the best sleeping position for TMJ is to sleep on your back. This helps support your head, neck, and shoulder in line. Also, to ensure this make sure your head is not elevated high. The pillow should keep your neck and shoulders in line.
Exercise to strengthen jaw and pain relief
While sometimes, the disorder might even need surgery for treatment. However, these exercises can help reduce pain and strengthen the jaw. In addition, the training helps relax the jaw, pain relief, less clinking of the jaw, jaw stretching, and inverse jaw mobility. But it is necessary to take advice before experimenting with these.
The best exercises for TMJ disorder are:
- Relaxed Jaw exercises: Relax your jaw and keep your younger behind upper front teeth. Now open your mouth such that the upper and lower teeth have a gap while relaxing your jaw.
- Chin Tucks: Make your shoulders straight while drawing your chest up. Now put your chin down, making a double chin. Hold for a few seconds and repeat the exact ten times.
- Tongue up: Make your tongue touch the upper roof of the mouth. Now slowly open and close your mouth.
- Goldfish exercises (partial opening): Place one finger on your TMJ, the joint, and one on the chin. Now drop your lower jaw halfway and close. But this jaw drop should not cause pain. Repeat this exercise six times per day.
- Goldfish exercises (full opening): This exercise is similar to the above one. Place one hand on the chin and the other on the joint. Now, tongue on the roof, open your lower jaw completely and back. Repeat this five times a day.
- Restricted Mouth opening: Put your thumb under the chin. Now slowly open your mouth such as your thumb works as resistance. Then close your mouth slowly. Repeat this four to six times.
- Restricted Mouth closing: Squeeze your chin in such a way that your index fingers are on the chin and both thumbs under the chin. Now squeezing your chin, slowly close your mouth, putting slight pressure. Repeat this a few times because it will help in jaw strengthening.
- Forward jaw movement: For this exercise, you will need a small object that is small enough, like ¼ inch. Now place the object between your front teeth and slowly move your jaw forward. With this, your lower teeth will be in front of your upper teeth. After certain attempts, when it gets normal, slowly increase the object’s length.
- Side to Side Jaw Movement: Similar to the above one, place the 0object between your teeth. Instead of the forward movement, move your lower jaw side to side. Now, with time, increase the object length slowly.
Treatments for TMJ Disorder
Your treatment will depend on several factors like age, medical history, other health conditions, body’s reactions towards treatment, and others. However, there are some possible treatments that your doctor will likely prescribe you. Some common treatments are:
The therapy involves different practices to treat jaw pain. The exercises, as mentioned earlier, are also included, and your therapist may ask you to do these as these exercises allow more movement of the jaw and relax the sore jaw.
In addition, treatment procedures also include massages or acupuncture for the jaw for the disorder treatment. There are some other practices during therapy that your doctor suggests with the treatment. These are some natural remedies to treat TMJ:
- Soft diet
- Cold or heat packs
- Stress-relieving practices to reduce teeth clenching and grinding
- Posture training
- Behavior changes
- Diet changes
Electric Nerve Stimulation:
A certain amount of current is transferred as electric shocks to the jaw nerves in this procedure. This results in better stimulation and low pain in the nerves. These currents are measured carefully, and it is a complex process. However, a professional can handle it well.
The splints are custom-made according to your teeth. You need to put these splints on your upper and lower jaw. Moreover, these splints act as a cushion between them. Due to this, there is less clenching or grinding of teeth. This makes the joint heal slowly and gives rest to the joint.
So, does TMD require surgery? In most cases, there is no need for surgery for TMJ, known as arthroscopy, and even doctors do not prefer it. But in extreme cases, a person may need surgery to help locate the jaw and eliminate other problems with the joint.
These are some standard treatment procedures available for the disorder. However, before you opt for something, please consult your doctor as they will advise you on the best fit according to the condition.
Lifestyle Changes to Cope with TMJ Disorder
The following lifestyle changes can help in managing your covid jaw pain or jaw pain and headache:
- Avoid biting nails
- Avoid chewing hard foods and gums
- Maintain a good posture
- Do not bite your lower lip
- Avoid long jaw movements like yawning, shouting, or singing
- Do not clench or grind your teeth
- Decares the alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and sugar consumption
- Maintain good oral health
- Practice relaxation techniques like meditation to avoid anxiety and stress. Hence, to declare the jaw clenching.
How to maintain oral hygiene during jaw pain?
It might get difficult to maintain oral hygiene as having pain does not allow the mouth to open correctly. Here are some tips that will help you in maintaining good oral hygiene:
- Consider using an antibacterial and antiseptic mouthwash.
- If feeling pain during dental checkups and treatment, tell your dentist.
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush.
- Use heat or cold compression for after dental procedure pain.
- If you are not able to open your mouth during flossing, then try using different options like water floss or rubber tip stimulator.
- Ask your dentist for different ways to keep teeth clean and hygienic that do not require wide mouth opening.
Other dental issues due to COVID-19
In the covid phase, anxiety and stress have increased, but there is much inverse in things like snacking or poor eating habits. As a result, many people are facing dental problems. Some of the common are:
- Dry mouth
- Crack or fracture in teeth
- Wearing of tooth
- TMJ or jaw pain
- Periodontal disease
- Soft or hard deposit on teeth
However, one can minimize these by following well oral hygiene, reducing stress, and maintaining good eating habits.
Covid Jaw Pain: TMJ or TMD
It is true that covid significantly affects jaw pain causing TMD (Tumborodibular joint disease). However, apart from covid reasons like trauma, sleeping problems, postural defect or issues, poor bite alignment (malocclusions), chronic pain syndromes, and psychological stress are common for jaw pain disorder. Even some doctors say that back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, and shoulder pain is oftenly due to psychological stress or conditions.
You have understood the difference between TMJ and TMD, Right! To sum up, TMJ is two joints on each side of the face in the front of the ear that joins the jaw to the skull. On the other hand, TMD is a disease of TMJ which causes misalignment or pain in the joints, causing jaw pain.
Now, people can consider the covid jaw pain situation as non-serious. But it is essential to treat it with the help of a dentist or professional. Otherwise, it can cause severe difficulties in the long run. In extreme cases, one may even need surgery to treat covid jaw pain. At last, covid and jaw pain have shown a relation, and some people are also experiencing post covid jaw pain even after vaccination. So please do not ignore it and take the proper precautions and treatment for covid jaw pain, ear and jaw pain, headache and jaw pain, and others.