Jaw pain can be an unbearable ailment which affects your ability to speak, sleep and eat. Several things can cause jaw pain, from sinuses and ears to your teeth or jaw itself. It means it can be problematic to state if the pain in your jaw is because of a jaw problem or something else.
What causes jaw pain?
Mostly jaw pain is due to an aberration or joint injury of your jaw. But there are other probable causes as well. Here are some of the causes of jaw pain;
1. Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMD)
It is the most common cause of jaw pain, affecting almost 10 million Americans. The temporomandibular joints are the hinge joints present on each side of the jaw. Many things can cause TMD jaw pain. It is also likely to experience TMD due to various reasons at the same time. Causes of TMD comprise the following;
• pain from the muscles which control jaw movement
• injury to the jaw joint
• excess stimulation of the jaw joint
• a displaced disc which generally helps cushion the movements of the jaw
• arthritis of the protective disc which cushions the jaw joint
Damage to the jaw joint or the muscles which control your jaw movement can be caused by some factors, including;
• grinding your teeth at night
• involuntarily clenching your jaw due to stress
• trauma to the jaw joint, like getting hit in the face while playing sports
There are also some less common causes of jaw pain. These include;
2. Cluster headaches
These headaches usually cause pain behind or around one of the eyes, but the pain can release to the jaw. Cluster headaches are one of the most painful sorts of a headache.
3. Sinus problems
The sinuses are air-filled openings positioned near to the jaw joint. If the sinuses become diseased with a germ, like a virus or a bacterium, the outcome can be an excess of mucus which puts pressure on the jaw joint, causing discomfort.
4. Tooth pain
Sometimes severe tooth infections called as dental abscesses can cause pain which radiates to the jaw.
5. Trigeminal neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia is a state that’s most usually caused by nerve compression on the trigeminal nerve which provides sensation to the face, comprising the upper and lower jaws.
6. Heart attack
A heart attack can cause an ache in other areas of the body besides the chest, like the back, arms, neck, and jaw. Women in specific may experience jaw pain on the left side of their faces during the heart attack. Call 911 instantly and ask to be taken to the hospital.
Jaw pain relief
The good news is that you can alleviate the jaw pain through the following simple methods.
Apply moist heat or ice packs; Place ice in a plastic bag, cover it in a thin cloth and smear it to face for 10 minutes. Then take it off for 10 minutes and apply again.
Another route is to run warm water over a washcloth, apply it to your jaw region. It can relax intense jaw muscles and relieve the ache. Re-wet the washcloth several times to sustain the heat.
Over-the-counter pain relievers; Medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen and may help to reduce pain.
Massage the affected joint; Using middle and index finger, press the painful areas of the jaw, like the region right before your ear where jaw joints meet. Rub in a rounded motion for 5 to 10 rotations, then open your mouth and repeat. Massaging the muscles on the side of the neck may also help relieve stiffness.
Lifestyle approaches to decrease jaw pain long-term
Stress reduction; Try stress-relieving procedures to reduce jaw gripping. These could include;
These activities may help you decrease jaw pain if it is caused by tension.
Avoid chewy foods; Foods which are tough, chewy, or crunchy can place a strain on your jaw joint and lead to discomfort. Foods to avoid comprise;
• beef jerky
• chewing gum
Avoid caffeine; Your morning cup of Joe could be paying to muscle stiffness, that can be increased by caffeine. Avoiding caffeinated coffee and tea may help reduce jaw pain over time, but you may first feel muscle tautness from caffeine removal when cutting it out of your intake.
Most doctors will first commend non-aggressive treatment approaches for your jaw pain. If you still have it after these methods, you should dialogue to your dentist. Hence, you may require further mediations to find release for your discomfort. Such treatments include the following;
- Muscle relaxers
- Botox injections
- Jaw surgery