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Why Does My Jaw Hurt?

Almost everyone experiences occasional pain in their jaws at some point. This is normal and doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with your mouth. However, if the pain persists for more than a few days, it might indicate something is amiss.

This article will discuss jaw pain, what causes it, how to treat it, and when you should see a dentist about it. Keep reading to learn more!

What Is Jaw Pain?

Jaw pain is a general term for any discomfort in the jaw area and is characterized by a dull ache or throbbing sensation. It could be caused by an injury, infection, inflammation, toothache, TMJ disorder, or stress.

The pain can be felt anywhere along the jawline, including the teeth, gums, cheeks, chin, and neck. Sometimes, the pain radiates into the ear canal. If the pain lasts longer than a week, call us to schedule an appointment. 

Why Does Your Jaw Hurt?

Several reasons can cause sudden pain on one side or the left side of your jaw. Here are some of the most common ones:

#1. Trauma

Injuries to the face, head, or body can cause trauma to the jaw. This includes injuries from accidents, sports, work-related incidents, falls, etc.

Over-the-counter medication can usually be used to relieve the pain temporarily. However, if the pain continues after a couple of days, or you cannot open or close your mouth normally, you should seek medical attention. Your dentist may recommend an X-ray to rule out other issues, such as broken bones or dental problems.

#2. Oral Health Issues

One-sided jaw pain is often linked to dental issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, impacted wisdom teeth, grinding your teeth at night, abscessed teeth, and crooked or misaligned teeth.

Visit your dentist immediately if you suspect that these conditions are causing your jaw pain. They will be able to diagnose the problem quickly and provide treatment options, including prescription medication.

#3. Sinusitis

Inflammation in the nasal cavity can cause sinusitis and this inflammation can cause chronic pain in one or both sides of your jaw. If you have sinusitis, you may experience facial pain, headaches, nasal congestion, and tenderness around the eyes.

Sinusitis usually gets better within a week without any specific treatment. However, if your medical condition does not improve, you should consult your healthcare provider.

#4. Cluster Headaches

A cluster headache is characterized by severe, unilateral pain that starts in the forehead and moves down toward the nose and cheek. It usually affects the eyes and temple but can also cause pain in the jaw. Cluster headaches are excruciating and can last up to several hours.

There are many triggers for cluster headaches, but they tend to occur during stressful situations. You can try relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga to help reduce the frequency and intensity of your attacks.

#5. Heart Attack

As odd as it sounds, heart attacks can sometimes cause jaw pain, but as referred pain. Referred pain is where the pain travels away from its original location. So if you feel a sudden, severe pain in your jaw, call your doctor immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

#6. Tumors and Cysts

Tumors and cysts can also cause jaw pain. Tumors are abnormal growths of cells that can form in the jawbone or soft tissues around it. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form in the jawbone or soft tissues.

Both tumors and cysts can cause pain, swelling, and tenderness in the jaw area. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

#7. Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can also cause jaw pain. When we are stressed or anxious, our body releases hormones that can cause muscle tension in the jaw area. This tension can lead to pain and discomfort in the jaw muscles.

To reduce stress-related jaw pain, try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation. You can also talk to a therapist or counselor if you need help managing your stress and anxiety levels.

#8. TMJ Disorders

TMJ disorders are one of the most common reasons for jaw pain. Temporomandibular joint disorders (or TMJ) affect the jaw joints which connect the lower jawbone to the skull. The joints work as a hinge mechanism that allows us to move our jaws. When this joint becomes inflamed or damaged, it causes pain and discomfort.

The most common signs of temporomandibular disorder include clicking sound when opening and closing the mouth, pain while chewing, difficulty sleeping due to jaw pain, and pain in the jaw muscles and ligaments.

Your dentist can treat minor cases of jaw pain using over-the-counter medications. If the pain persists, they may refer you to a specialist specializing in treating TMJ disorders. Common treatment options for TMJ disorder include physical therapy, wearing a mouth guard, and lifestyle changes.

When To See a Doctor for Jaw Pain

You should see your primary care physician if your jaw pain is accompanied by additional symptoms, such as fever, swelling, or extreme sensitivity to touch. This could indicate a more severe problem that needs immediate treatment.

You should also visit your dentist if:

  • You notice changes in your bite
  • You have trouble eating or swallowing food
  • You are experiencing persistent pain that lasts longer than two weeks

It’s important to remember that there are many different types of jaw pain. Some people only experience mild pain or discomfort, while others suffer from severe pain that affects their quality of life.

If you think you might be suffering from jaw pain, you should visit your dentist immediately. Your dentist will examine and determine whether you need further tests or treatments.

Tips on How to Alleviate Jaw Pain

If you suffer from mild jaw pain, you don’t need a medical professional to treat your condition. Instead, you can use these tips to alleviate the symptoms.

  • Take over-the-counter pain medication.
  • Use ice packs to relieve muscle soreness.
  • Avoid chewy foods and try to eat soft foods instead.
  • Rest your jaw and avoid stress.
  • Massage your face gently to relax tense facial muscles.

Get TMJ Treatment at Strull Oral Surgery

If you suspect that a TMJ disorder causes jaw pain, you should consider getting a TMJ treatment. At Strull Oral Surgery, we offer the best TMJ treatments available today. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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About Dr. Darya Timin

Dr. Timin has a passion for dentistry, love for medicine and an eye for beauty and art.

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