What can cause jaw pain?
Jaw pain can indicate a dental issue such as a toothache, TMJ Disorder, or perhaps a more serious condition.
TMJ Disorder is a common cause of jaw pain. 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 is very important in your daily life because it allows you to talk, breathe, and eat.
TMJ Disorders occur when there is a problem with your facial and jaw muscles. If the disorder progresses to a severe state after you begin 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 believe you have TMJ problems, see your dentist so they can diagnose your problem and recommend treatment or exercises to help relieve symptoms. To address the problem, prescription drugs or surgery may be required.
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.
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
If the pain does not go away, you are missing teeth, or you are unable to chew or open and close your mouth, you may need to see your dentist. In addition to dental treatment, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen may be beneficial.
Dental Issues & 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
Fractured teeth are a dental emergency, so you should see your dentist as soon as possible to address these issues. Keep the sore tooth clean and try rinsing with warm water until then.
Cysts or Tumors
Not typically cancerous, odontogenic cysts or tumors can quickly begin to impact your teeth. Surgery may be required to remove them.
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.
This condition, which is an infection in the bone, can affect your mandible (lower jaw). If left untreated, anaerobic osteomyelitis, as it is also known, can sever the blood supply to your jaw and harm 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.
At Bearbrook Dental Centre, 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 a few rare instances, oral surgery for TMJ Disorder may be advised to correct the issue for people with severe jaw structural problems who are experiencing pain and have not found relief with other cures or treatments.