Jaw pain can indicate a dental issue such as a toothache, TMJ Disorder, or perhaps a more serious condition. In this post, our Toronto dentists explain possible causes of jaw pain and what to do with those sore joints.
What causes jaw pain?
Jaw pain can indicate a dental issue such as a toothache, TMJ Disorder, or perhaps 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 happen when your facial and jaw muscles aren't working properly. If the disorder worsens to this point after you first begin to feel pain here, you might eventually lose the ability 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.
Even though childhood vaccinations have thankfully eradicated many diseases, it is still possible to contract illnesses that can result in jaw pain and other symptoms.
Your jaw muscles may become tight or stiff as a result of the bacterial infection tetanus. Weeks in the hospital may be necessary to treat this severe condition.
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 doesn't go away, if you have missing teeth, if you have trouble chewing, opening and closing your mouth, or if you have missing teeth depending on the injury, you may need to see your dentist. In addition to dental care, if required, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen may be helpful.
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 with warm water.
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 is a bone infection that can affect your mandible (lower jaw). If untreated, anaerobic osteomyelitis can cut off 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 Delisle Dental Group will discuss your symptoms with you, perform a comprehensive oral examination, explain possible treatment options, and create a personalized treatment plan that may include a mouthguard or other measures depending on your needs.
Oral surgery for TMJ Disorder may be recommended in rare cases to correct the problem for those who suffer from severe pain due to structural problems in their jaw and have not found relief with other remedies or treatments.