What is the Reason for Jaw Pain

There are a number of factors that may come into play if you are experiencing jaw pain. The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the joint that connects your lower jaw to the upper jaw; it allows you to open and close your mouth. TMJ disorders can be very painful for the patient. Some affecting factors that come into play include:

* Arthritis
* Heart disease
* Heavy chewing
* Impacted teeth
* Malocclusion (a bad bite)
* Bruxism (clenching and grinding the teeth)
* Stress (which often leads to bruxism)
* Tumors or cysts
* Facial trauma
* Tooth or sinus infection

Symptoms of TMJ Issues

If you experience sudden jaw pain that was brought on by eating something very hard, that pain will likely subside on its own and not require a visit to the dentist. Jaw related discomfort can be persistent or intermittent and can be either sharp, stabbing pain or a dull, throbbing in pain. Throbbing pain that persists for more than one or two days needs to be addressed by your dentist as soon as possible. Additionally, a popping or clicking around the temporomandibular joint may be a sign of a TMJ disorder and should be evaluated by your dentist who can refer you for treatment by a physical therapist or pain clinic.

Jaw pain can radiate to other areas of our head so be mindful of pain in your ears or behind your eyes, frequent headaches, swelling in the lymph nodes or face, painful chewing or speaking, and of course, a locking jaw.

A severe toothache or an impacted tooth can cause pain to radiate up into your jaw on the side of your face with the affected tooth. Jaw pain can also spread up to your ears or down into your neck, causing inflammation and additional pain. Inflammation around your neck can make simple actions, like turning your head, uncomfortable.

Treating Jaw Pain At Home

Home remedies are a temporary fix. If you are experiencing persistent or severe jaw pain, you need to see your dentist as soon as possible for an exam and diagnosis or referral.

Depending on the reason for your jaw pain, you may be able to treat some of your symptoms at home. Jaw pain resulting from an accident or injury can be eased with an ice pack applied to the site of the pain. Over-the-counter pain medications with anti-inflammatory properties, such as ibuprofen, can help alleviate your discomfort. Jaw pain should be treated like a sprained ankle, time and rest, do not try to “work it out” like you would a sore muscle after exercise.

Chronic jaw pain possibly brought on by stress may be relieved by reducing your intake of caffeine and wearing a night guard when you sleep to help relieve some of the tension applied to your jaw while you sleep. If jaw pain lasts more than a day or two, or is severe, reach out to your dentist for an evaluation to prevent further discomfort and possible long-term damage.

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