What are the different causes of jaw pain?
If you are suffering from TMJ disorders, toothaches, trauma or injury then you are likely suffering from jaw pain as well. Here are some of the various types of jaw pain that might affect you:
TMJ Disorders (TMD)
Most patients experiencing jaw pain are actually suffering from one of the 3 main types of 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.
When there is an issue with your face or jaw muscles then you could experience TMJ disorder or TMD. If the disorder advances to a severe state after you start to experience 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
If you are suffering from TMJ disorders then you may experience symptoms such as:
- Pain or ache around your jaw, face or ears
- Constant headaches
- Locking or popping in your jaw
- Vision problems
- Ringing in ears
If you think that you may have a form of TMJ disorder then you should contact your dentist who may be able to offer some treatment options like facial exercises. Sometimes, prescription drugs or surgery may be required to address the issue.
Though we take many routine vaccines in childhood that have fortunately gotten rid of diseases, it’s still possible to get diseases that can 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.
Trauma to the Face and Jaw
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 injury, you may need to see your dentist if the pain doesn’t go away, you are missing teeth or you’re unable to chew or open and close your mouth. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen may help, in addition to dental treatment if necessary.
Dental Issues or Conditions
If you experience any of the following types of dental conditions then you will likely feel some form of jaw pain:
- 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
If you have any of the above occur then you should contact your dentist as soon as possible as these conditions are all considered dental emergencies. Until then, keep the tooth that hurts clean and try rinsing with warm water.
Cysts or Tumours
Not typically cancerous, odontogenic cysts or tumours can quickly begin to impact your teeth. If you have any cysts or tumours present then your dentists may recommend their surgical removal.
One of the most painful types of headache, cluster headaches can result in pain around or behind one eye, with pain radiating to reach the jaw.
A type of infection that occurs in the bone, this condition can impact your mandible (lower jaw). Referred to as anaerobic osteomyelitis, it can cut off the blood supply to your jaw and damage bone tissue if left untreated.
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.
At Access Dental, our dentists will discuss your symptoms with you, complete a comprehensive oral examination, explain possible treatment options, and develop 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.