With millions of people who’ve recovered from COVID-19, one question remains constant, what are the long-term side effects? Although we’re not sure yet, one common side effect that’s been occurring in recovered COVID-19 patients is jaw pain. Dr. Douglas Dieterich, a hepatologist who works at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City contracted COVID-19 in March and noted one of his symptoms during recovery is jaw pain.
How Does COVID-19 Cause Jaw Pain?
The jaw pain Dr. Dieterich experienced is likely due to excessive mouth breathing during his first few months of recovery. He was diagnosed with the temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). The TM joint is located where the ear and jaw meet and is often the source of jaw pain. With mouth breathing, it can cause strain on the TM joint since the mouth is open much more than usual.
A physical therapist claimed that COVID-19 infections make it difficult to breathe which forces patients to use muscles in their neck to help them breathe. As a result, the neck muscles that pull on the jaw can become strained and cause pain in the jaw and neck.
COVID-19 patients are also highly stressed which can cause them to clench or grind their teeth more which can also affect the TM joint.
Lastly, due to breathing issues, patients are also likely to hold improper posture which can cause a muscle imbalance and further jaw and neck muscle tension.
TMJ Treatment for Jaw Pain From COVID-19
In order to treat Dr. Dieterich’s jaw pain, he’s currently wearing a mouth guard to alleviate the strain on his TM joint. The ultimate goal is to rebalance his muscles and eliminate any strain. He can also eat soft foods to help reduce his pain much faster.
If you experience any jaw pain whether you’ve had COVID-19 or not, TMJ treatment in St. Louis from Smile On Dental Studio can help. Dr. Hill will begin your treatment by evaluating your jaw joints and asking about your other symptoms if you have any. Typically, patients with TMJ experience other symptoms such as:
- Worn teeth
- Shoulder tightness
- Pain behind the eyes
- Ringing ears
- Ear pain
- Should, head, or neck pain
- Teeth sensitive to cold
Using a series of TMJ dental technology like a CBCT Scan, K7 Jaw Tracking, Electromyography, T-Scan Digital Bite Analyzer, TENS unit, and Joint Vibration Analysis, Dr. Hill will know exactly how your jaw is imbalanced and what treatment approach to take. Most patients will wear an oral appliance or orthotic with the potential for reconstructive dentistry or orthodontics down the line.