Trauma, dental problems, and other health conditions can cause jaw pain. Pain in the jaw can range from uncomfortable to extreme, but you don’t need to suffer in silence. Once a health professional diagnoses the source of your jaw pain, you can receive treatment to alleviate or eliminate your pain.
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) on either side of your mouth connect each side of your lower jaw, or mandible, to your skull. These joints are flexible and can easily move, slide, and rotate in various directions as you speak, eat, drink, yawn, brush and floss your teeth, and perform other motions with your mouth. However, if your TMJ is hurt or overused, they can click or pop rather than move freely, which can cause you pain and discomfort.
Any problem or pain associated with TMJ is labeled as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), sometimes called temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMJD). This common problem affects between 5 and 12% of people, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Several lifestyle factors and events can trigger TMD such as the following:
Jaw pain is one of the most obvious and troublesome signs of TMD, but sufferers usually experience a range of symptoms:
If you experience these symptoms, especially when coupled with jaw pain, you should make a dental appointment.
TMD is the most common cause of jaw pain, but it’s not the only trigger. Abscesses, tumors, infections of the gums, and other dental problems can also make your jaws hurt. Dentists can diagnose these problems. They can then put a treatment plan in place or refer you to another medical professional who can provide more specialized care.
The cause of your jaw pain will determine the best course of treatment. Your dentist will thoroughly examine your mouth and jaw to develop your treatment plan. Blood tests, X-rays, MRI tests, and psychological tests may also be undertaken to diagnose your condition and optimal treatment solution.
Treatment can be as simple as taking antibiotics to resolve an infection or adopting a soft diet to relieve pressure on the jaw until the issue resolves itself. Some patients may need to wear a mouth guard to discourage bad behaviors and correct a misaligned bite. Steroid injections and pain medications can relieve swelling and inflammation around the joints. Physical therapy can also help some patients. Surgery may also be necessary to remove tumors, damaged bones, or infected teeth, or to treat impacted nerves.
Once your jaw pain is resolved, preventive measures can minimize the chance of it recurring in the future:
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions, so get an appointment today.