13
March
2014

Jaw pain and its causes

How to deal with jaw pain

Jaw pain can be extremely annoying and discomforting and can be caused by a wide variety of medical problems. Some types of jaw pain can be prevented, while other pain, when it does occur, can be treated.

Jaw pain can be extremely annoying and discomforting and can be caused by a wide variety of medical problems. Some types of jaw pain can be prevented, while other pain, when it does occur, can be treated. Some causes of jaw pain include sinus infections, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs), migraines, wisdom teeth, trauma, and little habits like biting your nails or grinding your teeth.  

Pain in the jaw can be caused by TMDs, which are chronic disorders that cause long-term inflammation of the jaw, and therefore jaw pain and subsequent headaches. Dentists will diagnosis you with one of these disorders and work with you to find effective treatment options. However, things like anxiety or stress can attribute to this condition, so keeping yourself relaxed is a good first step. Tetanus is another serious cause of jaw pain. This causes the muscles of the jaw to contract constantly, causing the jaw to lock. This is an infectious disease that needs to be diagnosed and treated, professionally. However, if you just notice that your jaw is often ‘locked’ or sore in the morning, doing different jaw exercises, and loosening up those muscles every day may just do the trick. Wisdom teeth can also cause a lot of pain in the jaw and face/sinus region if the teeth are deep in the bones, and impacted.  If this is the case, it is best to consult your dentist, to determine if those wisdom teeth should be removed.

Little habits such as chewing gum, biting nails, thumb sucking, chewing the cheeks or tongue, or sleeping on the back or side, can create jaw soreness and pain over time.  The first step to trying to eliminate jaw pain is to eliminate these habits from your daily routine. Your jaw may just be feeling over worked, and sore from the constant movement. Other little things such as headaches (migraines in particular) can cause pain in the head, face, sinuses and jaw areas. During sinus infections, you may notice that your sinuses and your jaw are particularly sore and you may feel pressure around them. Usually, taking a pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can relieve this kind of jaw pain.

Trauma to the jaw is another very common cause of jaw pain. This type of trauma is caused by the grinding and clenching of the teeth, both consciously and unconsciously (like while sleeping). This grinding or clenching can irritate the jawbones and muscles, making them very sore and painful. This can also lead to trouble biting or chewing properly, which can cause even more pain and discomfort. Your dentist will usually be able to tell if you grind your teeth at night during sleep, as some of your teeth will be worn down from grinding on each other. He or she may suggest wearing a mouth guard at night to avoid the grinding and clenching of teeth. This can greatly reduce the pain in your jaw and help to keep your teeth aligned and your jaw free of clenching. 

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