114 Where There Is No Dentist 2012
PAIN IN THE JOINT
A joint is the place where one bone joins another. The jawbone has two
joints, for it joins the head in front of each ear.
The mouth opens and closes because:
• muscles pull the jawbone; and
• the jawbone slides against the head
bone, inside the joints.
Pain in these joints may be because:
1. The muscles are tight because the
the person is tense or nervous.
2. The jawbone is fractured in the area
of the joint. (Also check the lower
jaw on the other side since a fracture
near the joint is often caused by a
blow to the other side of the face.)
3. The teeth do not fit together properly.
Before you treat, decide what is causing the pain. We will discuss the three
causes mentioned above.
Talk with the person and help, if you can, to find a solution to her
personal problems. This can do much to help her and her muscles relax.
In addition, explain how to care for the sore joint:
a. Eat only soft foods until it no longer hurts to chew.
b. Hold a hot, wet cloth against the jaw, to help relax the muscle.
Do this as often as possible, but be careful not to burn the skin.
c. Take aspirin or acetominophen (page 94) to reduce the pain.
If an X-ray shows a fracture, the person needs expert help. A dentist
can wire the teeth in a way that will allow the bone to heal.
3. Teeth do not fit together properly.
Imagine a line that passes between the 2 middle upper teeth and the
2 middle lower teeth in the person’s closed mouth (see the next page).
When the person opens the mouth, this line becomes longer, but it is
still a straight line. If it is not, this condition can, after a long time, cause
pain in the joint.