Jaw pain is unrelenting and debilitating. Even minor pain can keep you from speaking and eating. It immediately affects your quality of life. But it’s not just difficult for sufferers; it’s also a puzzle many dentists find hard to solve because there are many underlying causes.
If you’re experiencing pain or clicking sounds when you open and close your mouth, or stiffness and swelling around the joint area, make an appointment to see your dentist. Damage to the jaw joint or jaw muscles can cause long-term pain.
Understanding the Common Causes of Jaw Pain
After a thorough exam including X-rays and a review of your current health status and complete dental records, your dentist will make a diagnosis.
Jaw pain can be a symptom of previous trauma, sinus trouble, ear infections, tooth abscess, teeth grinding, or a joint issue.
The jaw connects to your skull at the joints located in front of your ears. Chewing and speaking involve a complex operation of various ligaments, nerves, and muscles that all work together.
When an accident causes damage, or the bite doesn’t meet properly, it can lead to disruption in an opening and closing your mouth.
It’s fairly straightforward to diagnose jaw pain after sustaining an injury to the face, but it doesn’t make treating your pain much simpler.
Getting hit in the mouth or jaw while playing sports or being in an accident can cause long-term damage and pain.
Apply ice packs to your jaw and take an anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen immediately after the trauma.
Lightly massage the jaw joint and limit hard to chew foods like popcorn, chewy candy, and gum until the pain and swelling subside.
If you can’t resume eating and speaking normally due to pain after two weeks, see an expert dentist like the ones at ED USA to treat the chronic condition.
If you handle stress by clenching your jaw, you could also be grinding your teeth while you’re asleep. Over time, grinding your teeth wears down enamel and damages your teeth, as well as contributes to jaw issues.
Most often, the damage occurs at night or through involuntary clenching of the jaw during periods of high anxiety.
One way to address it is to reduce stress in your life by taking up yoga, mindful breathing, or meditation. Try eliminating caffeine and other stimulants that cause muscle tension.
Your dentist may prescribe a custom-fit mouthguard to wear at bedtime. The plastic dental protector worn at bedtime can help keep you from unconsciously grinding your teeth.
If none of these tactics resolve the pain, the problem could be muscular due to clenching. Your dentist may prescribe muscle relaxers to relieve jaw tension.
Poorly Fitted Dentures
Dentures are designed to sit where your natural teeth once were. Without natural teeth, your jawbone begins to break down and can cause damage to the jaw joint.
As the jawbone deteriorates and shrinks, your dentures can fit poorly and further contribute to jaw pain.
Initially, you can use denture adhesive to keep the teeth in place while you eat and speak.
Your dentist may recommend periodic refits of the dentures as your jaw continues to change shape over time. If necessary, the dentist can initiate bone rebuilding procedures to restore the bone to a healthy mass.
Structural Issues and TMJ
Any jaw pain that involves the jaw joint and the muscles that control it is called a temporomandibular joint disorder. Dentists may use advanced imaging techniques like a CT scan or MRI to diagnose the disorder.
When your bite doesn’t meet correctly, orthodontic treatment is your best option to adjust alignment and reduce pain and other symptoms. For structural issues, your dentist may need to break and reset the joint, but this option should be reserved for extreme cases.
If the problem is muscular and doesn’t respond to non-invasive treatments, your dentist may recommend a Botox injection to keep your jaw muscles from clenching.
Jaw pain can be relieved for months but might require repeated injections for long-term relief.
Jaw pain that interrupts your ability to eat, drink, and speak clearly can instantly diminish your quality of life. Although sometimes difficult to diagnose, the treatments are similar across the spectrum.
See a dentist if you’re having pain when you open or close your mouth, or are suffering from stiffness and swelling in the area. Dentists have various effective treatments for pain, misalignments, muscle tension, and structural issues.