Arthritis occurs when joints in your body become inflamed due to a variety of causes, resulting in pain and stiffness. Arthritis can affect many different joints in your body, including your jaw or the temporomandibular joints.
In some cases, arthritis in your jaw is caused by osteoarthritis, a condition where the cartilage or tissue insulating your temporomandibular joint begins to wear away. Your jaw is particularly susceptible to osteoarthritis because the cartilage is not as strong as in other joints and can develop holes with normal wear and tear such as chewing, according to the Merck Medical Manual.
Arthritis in your jaw may also occur due to rheumatoid arthritis, a condition where your immune system malfunctions and attacks the lining around your joint. Approximately 17 per cent of people with rheumatoid arthritis develop the condition in their jaws, reports the Merck Medical Manual.
Arthritis in your jaw may also occur from a virus or bacteria entering your jawbone, according to the Merck Medical Manual. Often this occurs when you have an infection and then sustain an injury to your jaw, such as from a blow to your head that causes a crack or injury to the bone.
Even without an infection, an injury may lead to arthritis in your jaw if you experience bleeding into the joint as a result, because the blood can accumulate in the space of the temporomandibular joint and cause inflammation.
Elderly people have the greatest likelihood of developing arthritis of the jaw, reports the Merck Medical Manual. Arthritis in the jaw in children normally stems from an injury.