Illustration of x-ray of person's teeth and jaw

Your jaw is an important part of your mouth and an important part of your dental health. It’s crucial to maintain a good dental routine to maintain the health of your mouth, including the health of your jaw.

 

Here are 5 things you need to know about your jaw, and why it’s an important part of your dental health.

 

Your Jaw

The roots of your teeth (the part of the tooth that looks like 2 legs) are anchored into your jawbone.

 

Your lower jaw (the part of the jaw that moves) is connected to your upper jaw by the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), allowing you to move your jaw to effectively speak, chew, and swallow.

 

Jaw Movement

Children can open and close their mouths only in an up-and-down motion.

 

Little girl with mouth open smiling and holding jaw missing front teeth

 

As the permanent teeth come in, the movement of a child’s jaw expands, allowing them to move their jaw up and down, forward and backward, and side to side.

 

Taking Care of Your Jaw

The best way to protect your jaw is to keep your mouth healthy. Other ways you can protect your jaw from pain or damage include:

  • Limit gum chewing
  • Stop grinding your teeth (wear mouthguard at night)
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements (opening your mouth to the limits of your joints)
  • Eat softer foods

 

TMJ vs TMD

Often used to describe TMD, TMJ (temporomandibular joints) refers to the two joints and jaw muscles that make it possible for your to open and close your mouth.

 

TMD (temporomandibular disorder), also known as TMJ syndrome, refers to problems with the jaw and the muscles that control it.

 

Man holding his jaw or ears in pain

 

Anything that prohibits your jaw from functioning properly is classified as TMD. WebMD lists the common symptoms of TMD, which include:

  • Jaw or face pain
  • Clicking or popping sounds when you open and close your mouth (may or may not be painful)
  • Jaw locks or gets stuck in open or closed position
  • Uncomfortable bite
  • Swelling on the sides of your face

 

If you experience any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

 

Periodontal Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, not only harms your gums; if left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to serious jaw problems.

 

If gingivitis (a reversible, early form of gum disease) isn’t treated, your gums can become infected by the plaque and tartar that aren’t removed from your teeth.

 

When your gums become infected, your body responds by attacking the infection. Unfortunately, the connective tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place are also attacked. This results in loose teeth, which may require tooth extraction.

 

The best way to prevent periodontal disease and ultimately protect your jaw is to maintain a good dental routine. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and visit the dentist every six months.

 

Close up of woman brushing white teeth

For more information or to schedule a dental appointment, contact A Beautiful Smile at Lake Pointe in Sugar Land, Texas. We are committed to providing you and your family with expert dental care.