What causes jaw pain?
Jaw pain can be caused by a dental problem such as a toothache, TMJ disorder, or a more serious condition.
One of the most common causes of jaw pain is TMJ Disorder. The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull (located just below your temple, in front of your ear). This hinge plays a large role in your everyday life, allowing you to talk, breathe and eat.
TMJ Disorders occur when your facial and jaw muscles are strained. If the disorder worsens after you begin to feel pain in this area, you may eventually be unable to move the joint.
Causes of TMJ Disorders can include:
- Certain conditions or illnesses such as arthritis
- Inflammation in the muscles surrounding your jaw
- Misalignment of the jaw
- Injury to the jaw
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder may include:
- Pain or ache around your jaw, face or ears
- Constant headaches
- Locking or popping in your jaw
- Vision problems
- Ringing in ears
If you suspect a problem with your TMJ, see your dentist so he or she can recommend treatment or exercises. Sometimes, prescription drugs or surgery may be required to address the issue.
Despite the fact that we receive many routine vaccines as children that have thankfully eliminated diseases, it is still possible to contract diseases that cause jaw pain and other symptoms.
Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can cause your jaw muscles to stiffen or feel tight. This serious condition can result in spending weeks in hospital.
Just like other bones in your body, your jaw can become fractured or dislocated. After taking a blow to the jaw, you may experience:
- Loose or missing teeth
Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to see a dentist if the pain persists, you are missing teeth, or you are unable to chew or open and close your mouth. In addition to dental treatment, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen may be beneficial.
A variety of dental issues can lead to a sore jaw. These can include:
- Fractured or crowded teeth
- Toothache (typically with an abscess or cavity as the underlying cause)
- Teeth grinding
- Gum disease (which can cause your jaw bone to become damaged)
- Wisdom teeth erupting
- Misaligned teeth
These issues should be addressed as soon as possible, and fractured teeth are dental emergencies, so see your dentist as soon as possible. Until then, keep the painful tooth clean and rinse it with warm water.
Cysts or Tumors
Although odontogenic cysts or tumours are not usually cancerous, they can have a significant impact on your teeth. They may need to be removed surgically.
Cluster headaches are one of the most painful types of headaches, causing pain around or behind one eye, with pain radiating to the jaw.
This condition, a type of infection that occurs in the bone, can affect your mandible (lower jaw). If left untreated, anaerobic osteomyelitis can cut off the blood supply to your jaw and damage bone tissue.
How can I get rid of jaw pain?
- Apply a warm, wet washcloth or ice pack covered in cloth to your jaw (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off)
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
- Rub the affected joint. Massage the joint using your fingers, pressing the sore areas of your jaw and moving to the side of your neck.
- Avoid caffeine (which can potentially contribute to muscle tension)
If your jaw pain persists after at-home remedies, make an appointment with your dentist.
Our dentists at Legacy Dental will discuss your symptoms with you, perform a thorough oral examination, explain possible treatment options, and create a custom treatment plan that may include a mouthguard or other measures depending on your needs.
In rare cases, oral surgery for TMJ Disorder may be recommended to correct the problem for those with severe pain that suffer from structural problems in their jaw and haven’t found relief with other remedies or treatments.