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

There are a number of conditions that have the potential to lead to pain or discomfort in your jaw. Below, our Toronto dentists talk about these causes of jaw pain and what you can do to help treat the symptoms.

Jaw Pain: Why is it Happening?

There are a variety of potential causes for pain experienced in the jaw. Here we discuss some of the most commonly seen issues.

TMJ Disorders (TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder)

If you are experiencing jaw pain then there is a good chance that you might actually be suffering from TMJ disorders.

TMJ Disorders occur when there is an issue with your facial and jaw muscles. Seeking treatment as soon as possible is incredibly important as this condition can lead to your being unable to move your jaw.

Some of the possible causes of TMD are:

  • Certain conditions or illnesses such as arthritis
  • Inflammation in the muscles surrounding your jaw
  • Misalignment of the jaw
  • Injury to the jaw

The symptoms that may be experienced with TMD include:

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

Do you suspect that you might have a problem with your TMJ? See your dentist so they can recommend treatment or exercises. Sometimes, prescription drugs or surgery may be required to address the issue.

Infections or Diseases

Though we take many routine vaccines in childhood that have fortunately gotten rid of diseases, it’s still possible to get diseases that can cause jaw pain and other symptoms.

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can cause your jaw muscles to stiffen or feel tight. This disease can result in yo spending an extended serious of time in the hospital or even worse.

Traumatic Events

Just like other bones in your body, your jaw can become fractured or dislocated. After taking a blow to the jaw, you may experience:

  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Bruises
  • Pain
  • Swelling

If you have persistent pain or issues with using your mouth or jaw you should check in with your dentist. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen may help, in addition to dental treatment if necessary.

Dental Issues, Conditions or Habits

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
  • 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 see your dentist right away. Until then, you should use warm water to keep your teeth clean.

Cysts or Tumours (Cancerous or Non-Cancerous)

Not typically cancerous, odontogenic cysts or tumours can quickly begin to impact your teeth. Surgery may be required to remove them.

Severe Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are particularly painful and can result in pain around or behind one eye, which radiates toward 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, which if left untreated can actually prevent the flow of blood to the bone and causes bone death.

What can you do to provide relief for jaw pain?

Caring For Your Jaw At Home

  • 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)

Receiving Professional Dental Care

If you have tried all of the above with no result then you should contact your dentist for further examination.

At Uptowne 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. 

If you haven't been able to find relief for your jaw pain then your dentist may suggest having a consultation for oral surgery.

If you have jaw pain and are in need of a diagnosis, please contact our Toronto dentists today to request an appointment.

Uptowne Dental Centre is always accepting new patients! 

Contact us today to book your first appointment.

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