The Many Possible Causes of Jaw Pain
When you are experiencing jaw pain it is important to have the cause diagnosed as soon as possible as it could be due to something simple or a more serious issue which could require treatment as soon as possible.
The Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
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). Did you know that you use this for everything that you do with your mouth in a day? Whether it is eating, talking or breathing you
TMJ Disorders occur when there is an issue with your facial and jaw muscles. 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
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.
Diseases & Infections Which Lead to Dental Pain
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 or Injuries to Your Face
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.
Various Dental Conditions
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
You will need to seek dental care right away from any of these concerns. If you have a broken tooth then you should contact an emergency dentist right away. 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. Surgery may be required to remove them.
Severe Headaches Focused Around the Eyes or Jaw
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.
Osteomyelitis (Bone Infections)
If you suffer from a bone infection it will likely be focused on your lower jaw causing severe pain. Referred to as anaerobic osteomyelitis, it can cut off the blood supply to your jaw and damage bone tissue if left untreated.
What are some ways to treat and avoid jaw pain?
What You Can Do At Home
- 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)
When You Should Seek Professional Dental Care
If your jaw pain persists after at-home remedies, make an appointment with your dentist.
At Tweed 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.
If you have been able to find relief using any of the methods listed above then your dentist may recommend having oral surgery for a more permanent solution.