Many people experience jaw pain at some point in their lives. The pain may occasionally last only a short time, or it may be more persistent. Jaw pain can occur due to various causes, some of which are pretty serious. In most cases, jaw pain is a severe symptom of TMJ disorders. However, other potential causes of jaw pain should not be ignored.
Possible causes of jaw pain
As mentioned, jaw pain is caused by various conditions. Here are some of the common causes of jaw pain:
One common but often overlooked cause of persistent jaw pain is a TMJ or tempo-mandibular joint disorder. The TMJ is the joint that links the lower jaw to the skull, and it is responsible for all the movement of the jaw, including chewing, talking, and yawning. When this joint becomes damaged or inflamed, it can cause a great deal of pain. There are many possible causes of TMJ disorders, including teeth grinding, arthritis, and injury to the joint.
Often, the exact cause is unknown. Treatment for TMJ disorders varies depending on the severity of the problem but may include oral surgery, medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. If you are experiencing persistent jaw pain, see your trusted oral surgeon to rule out a TMJ disorder.
One common cause of persistent jaw pain is toothache. Toothaches can be caused by several things, including decay, infection, and trauma. If you have a toothache, you may experience pain when you bite down or chew. You may also notice that the pain worsens when you eat hot or cold foods.
Decay can be treated with a filling, while an infection may require antibiotics. Trauma, such as a fracture, may necessitate more extensive treatment. If you are experiencing jaw pain, see a healthcare professional to rule out any serious underlying causes.
One of the most common causes of persistent jaw pain is cavities. When a tooth decays, it creates a hole in the enamel that can allow bacteria to enter the pulp of the tooth. The pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. When bacteria reach the pulp, it can be inflamed and cause intense pain. In addition, the inflammation can spread to the tooth’s root and cause an infection. If left untreated, cavities can cause severe damage to teeth and lead to long-term jaw pain. Therefore, seeing a dentist as soon as possible is crucial.
An abscessed tooth is a common cause of persistent jaw pain. The infection can develop when bacteria enter the tooth through a cavity or crack, resulting in the buildup of pus. The abscess can pressure the surrounding tissues, causing pain and irritation. In some cases, the infection can also spread to the lymph nodes, causing even more pain and swelling. If left untreated, an abscessed tooth can lead to serious health complications, so immediate treatment plays a crucial role in eliminating the root cause. Treatment typically involves antibiotics to clear the infection and a root canal to remove the damaged tissue.
Clenching or grinding teeth (bruxism)
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a common cause of persistent jaw pain. Many people grind their teeth unconsciously, often at night while they are sleeping. However, bruxism can also occur daily, often in response to stress or anxiety. Over time, the constant grinding can damage the teeth and jaw muscles, causing pain and stiffness. The best way to relieve bruxism-related jaw pain is to seek treatment from a dentist or other healthcare provider. Often, a mouth guard can be worn at night to protect the teeth from further damage. Sometimes, medication may be prescribed to help relax the jaw muscles and reduce inflammation. With proper treatment, it is possible to find relief from persistent jaw pain caused by bruxism.
Injury to the jaw
Another common cause of jaw pain is injury. Injury to the jaw is often the result of a blow to the face or head, which can cause the jawbone to break or dislocate. Arthritis is a common condition that can affect any joint in the body, including the jaw. There are many different types of arthritis, but all involve inflammation of the joints, which can lead to pain and stiffness. Teeth grinding (bruxism) is another common cause of jaw pain. It can occur day and night and often results from stress or anxiety.
The bottom line
Persistent jaw pain can affect your life, making it difficult to eat, speak, and sleep. It’s important to determine the root cause of the pain and see a doctor immediately to find out if any underlying conditions are present. With proper treatment, it is possible to find relief from the pain and live a normal, healthy life.