Jaw pain can be the result of a dental issue such as a toothache, TMJ Disorder, or perhaps a more serious condition. In this post, our Weyburn dentists explain the possible causes of jaw pain and what to do with those sore joints.
What Can Lead to Jaw Pain
Jaw pain can indicate a dental issue such as a toothache, TMJ Disorder, or perhaps a more serious condition.
TMJ Disorder is one of the most common causes 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 plays a large role in your everyday life, allowing you to talk, breathe and eat.
TMJ Disorders occur when your facial and jaw muscles experience an issue. 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 think you're experiencing a TMJ issue, see your dentist so he or she can recommend treatment or exercises. You may also require prescription drugs or surgery to address the issue.
Although we take many routine vaccines throughout our childhood, it’s still possible to contract diseases that can lead to 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 leave you spending weeks in the hospital.
Just like other bones in your body, your jaw can become fractured or dislocated. After experiencing trauma to the jaw, you may notice:
- Loose or missing teeth
If the pain doesn’t go away, you are missing teeth, or you’re unable to chew or open and close your mouth, It's likely time to visit the dentist. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen may help, in addition to any necessary dental treatment.
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
The above issues should be catered to as soon as possible, and fractured teeth are dental emergencies, so intervention from a dentist is more than necessary. 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.
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.
Taking Care of Your 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 at-home remedies don't help you get rid of your jaw pain, make an appointment with your dentist.
At Souris Family 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 could 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.