Jaw pain can be debilitating, making it difficult to open your mouth. It’s important to understand the possible causes of jaw pain so you can get the right treatment or begin managing your condition with lifestyle changes. Here are some common reasons why your jaw might hurt and how you can find relief.
One of the most common causes of jaw pain is a disorder known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome. The TMJ connects your lower jaw to your skull and controls the movement of your mouth. When this joint becomes strained, people can experience a wide range of symptoms, including pain, popping or clicking in the joint, headaches, earaches, and difficulty opening their mouths wide. Any imbalance causes TMJ syndrome to the jaw muscles, such as being hit in the face or grinding your teeth.
Treating TMJ Syndrome
TMJ syndrome is best treated by an experienced dentist who specializes in TMJ disorders. They will perform a physical exam and review any medical history of jaw pain. They can provide treatment options, such as splints or braces, that help keep the joint in place while it heals. In some cases, injections may also reduce inflammation and muscle spasms. Oral surgery may be required to correct the issue if the condition is severe. Severe symptoms include:
- Difficulty opening and closing the jaw
- Numbness in the face or jaw area
- Hearing loss
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Stress-Related Jaw Pain
You may not notice it, but stress can cause physical and emotional tension in your body, leading to pain and tightness in the jaw muscles. Stress-related jaw pain is typically caused by clenching or grinding your teeth, which can put excessive pressure on the joint and surrounding muscles. If you feel anxious or overwhelmed, you may also develop physical tension in your face, contributing to the pain.
Relieving Stress-Related Jaw Pain
There are several strategies you can use to manage stress and relieve jaw pain, including:
- Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or yoga
- Make lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine intake, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep
- Avoid chewing gum or eating hard and chewy foods
- Learn how to manage and reduce stress by talking to a therapist or counselor
- Practice good posture with your head slightly tilted up and chin tucked in.
Tooth Decay or Injury
Tooth decay or injury are two other potential causes of jaw pain that should not be overlooked. Recent dental work done or experienced trauma to your face or teeth could be causing inflammation in your jaw leading to discomfort and soreness. You may also experience jaw pain due to an infection in the teeth or gums, such as an abscess.
If you are experiencing jaw pain due to tooth decay or injury, you must seek treatment from a dentist immediately. They can diagnose any underlying issues and provide appropriate treatments such as antibiotics for infections, fillings or root canals for decay, and even surgery if needed. If an injury causes pain, your dentist may prescribe a pain reliever and recommend resting until the area has healed. If the injury is severe, they may refer you to a surgeon. They will be able to evaluate the severity of the injury and recommend further treatment.
Dental Care for Jaw Pain
If you’re experiencing jaw pain, you must talk to your dentist about the cause. They can diagnose any underlying issues and provide the best possible treatment. Depending on the cause, this may include medications, splints or braces, relaxation techniques, lifestyle changes, dental work such as fillings or root canals, or even surgery.
As always, prevention is the best way to avoid jaw pain. Here are ways to prevent this from happening:
- Avoid chewing ice, or hard and chewy foods
- Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to reduce stress
- Make lifestyle changes to help manage anxiety and stress levels
- Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly
- Use a mouth guard if you grind your teeth while sleeping
- See your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings
- Practice good posture to reduce tension in the jaw area
If you are experiencing jaw pain, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. If you have been in an accident and you suspect a fracture or dislocation, it is best to seek emergency care. Additionally, suppose the pain is severe and lasts more than a few days. In that case, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.
Jaw pain is an uncomfortable condition that affects millions of people each year. Still, luckily there are steps you can take toward finding relief from whatever is causing it. With proper diagnosis and management techniques, you should eventually find relief so you can go back to living without worrying about discomfort.