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What Jaw Pain Means: What Causes It and How to Treat It

If you are suffering from jaw pain it can be the result of a number of different causes such as a toothache or a TMJ disorder. In this post, our Victoria dentists share some of the most common causes of jaw pain and what you can do to help relieve your discomfort.

The Causes of Jaw-Related Pain

When it comes to jaw and tooth pain, there can be a variety of causes ranging from mild and temporary to more serious issues that require immediate dental care.

TMJ Disorders (TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder)

When a patient is experiencing jaw pain, one of the most common causes 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 important joint is what allows you to eat, breathe and talk with ease.

When you experience an injury or damage to your face and jaw muscles TMJ disorder may result. If the disorder is left untreated and advances to a severe state you may begin to feel increasing amounts of discomfort and may eventually be unable to move the joint.

Some of the most common causes of TMJ disorders include:

  • Conditions or illnesses such as arthritis
  • Inflammation of the muscles surrounding your jaw
  • Jaw Misalignment
  • Injury to the jaw

Individuals suffering from TMJ disorders typically experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or ache around your jaw, face or ears
  • Constant headaches
  • Locking or popping in your jaw
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • Ringing in ears

If you are concerned that you might be experiencing a TMJ disorder (TMD) then you should get in touch with your dentist as soon as possible for an examination and diagnosis. Sometimes, prescription drugs or surgery may be required to address the issue.

Diseases That Can Cause Jaw Pain

While we have mostly been protected from certain serious diseases thanks to the vaccinations that we received during our younger years, there are still some conditions that you may be affected by.

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can lead to the stiffening of jaw muscles. This serious condition can result in spending weeks in the hospital to recover.

Jaw Injury or Trauma

As with other bones in your body, your jaw can suffer from damage or be fractured. If you receive a blow to the jaw, you may experience the following:

  • Loose or knocked out teeth
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Swelling

If you are applying home pain relief method to no avail then you may need to reach out to your dentist for an exam. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen may help, in addition to dental treatment if necessary.

Dental Concerns Affecting One or More Teeth

There are also a number of dental health concerns that can lead to jaw pain. Some of the most common are:

  • 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 problems should be addressed as soon as possible, and fractured teeth are dental emergencies, so you should contact your dentist immediately to book an appointment. You will need to try to keep your tooth clean while you head to the dentist. This can be accomplished using warm water.

Cysts or Tumours (Cancerous or Non Cancerous)

Odontogenic cysts or tumours aren't typically cancerous, but they can quickly begin to impact your teeth. If you are experiencing a tumour then your dentist may need to schedule surgery in order to remove it.

Cluster Headaches Near Eye or Jaw

Generally considered to be one of the most painful types of headache, cluster headaches can result in pain around or behind one eye that can radiate to reach the jaw.

Osteomyelitis (Bone Infections)

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.

How can you relieve pain in your jaw?

Home Remedies and Pain Relief Options

  • 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)

Routine Professional Dental Care

If your jaw pain persists after trying the at-home remedies listed above, make an appointment with your dentist.

At Vic West Dentistry, 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 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.

If you suddenly experience jaw pain or any type of dental concern, contact our Victoria dentists to request an appointment today.

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