Jaw pain can be an indication of a dental issue such as a toothache, TMJ Disorder, or perhaps a more serious condition. In this post, our Cobourg dentists discuss some common causes of jaw pain and ways to help soothe those sore joints.
What causes jaw pain?
When jaw pain strikes it can be an indication of a dental issue such as a toothache, TMJ Disorder, or in some cases, a more serious condition.
One of the most common causes of jaw pain is TMJ Disorder. The temporomandibular joint is the hard-working joint that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull (located just below your temple, in front of your ear). This hinge plays a major role in your everyday life, allowing you to speak, breathe and eat normally.
TMJ Disorders occur when there is an issue with your facial and jaw muscles. 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.
TMJ Disorders can result from a number of issues including:
- Certain conditions or illnesses such as arthritis
- Inflammation in the muscles surrounding your jaw
- Misalignment of the jaw
- Injury to the jaw
Symptoms related to 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 believe that you are experiencing a problem with your TMJ, visit your dentist so they can examine your jaw and recommend appropriate treatment or exercises. In severe cases, prescription drugs or surgery may be required to address the issue.
Though we take many routine vaccines in childhood that have fortunately gotten rid of a number of diseases, it’s still possible to get conditions 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 result in spending weeks in hospital to recover.
As with other bones in your body, your jaw can become fractured or dislocated. If you have taken a blow to the jaw, you may experience:
- Loose or missing teeth
Depending on the injury, be sure to visit your dentist if the pain doesn’t go away, you are missing teeth or you’re unable to chew or open and close your mouth. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen may help in manage the symptoms of a minor incident.
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 or clenching
- Gum disease (which can cause your jaw bone to become damaged)
- Wisdom teeth coming through
- Poorly aligned teeth
These problems should be addressed as soon as possible, and fractured teeth are dental emergencies, so you should see your dentist right away. Until then, keep the tooth that hurts clean and try rinsing with warm water.
Cysts or Tumors
Generally not 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 that radiates 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 blood supply to your jaw and damage bone tissue if left untreated.
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 trying the at-home remedies listed above, make an appointment with your dentist.
At Spring Street 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 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.