Jaw pain can have several causes ranging from mild, niggling pain to more extreme pain affecting your jaw function and daily life. The good news is that you can remedy jaw pain with various treatments, from physiotherapy to necessary dental work and even medications. Although it can go away on its own without treatment, if left untreated, jaw pain can, in many cases, worsen and lead to further problems. It is always best to contact your doctor or dentist when the signs of jaw pain first show.
What Are the Symptoms of Jaw Pain?
Jaw pain can show in a range of symptoms that range in their level of discomfort. The most common symptoms of jaw pain include:
- Pain that radiates from the jaw through the rest of the face and/or neck
- A locking jaw that you are unable to open completely
- Clicking or popping sounds when you move the jaw, such as when chewing
- Pain and discomfort in the jaw from chewing food
- Dental and oral sensitivity
What Causes Jaw Pain?
Knowing how to help jaw pain relies on getting the correct diagnosis for the cause. There are many causes of jaw pain, so you must go to your dentist or doctor rather than trying to self-diagnose the root of the problem.
The four most common causes of jaw pain are:
- Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMD)
- Problems with any of your teeth, such as wisdom tooth jaw pain
- Problems with your sinuses
- Cluster headaches that radiate to your jaw or cause problems with the muscles and joints in your jaw
TMD, also referred to as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, is one of the most common causes of jaw pain. The pain could be coming from the TMJ (jaw joint) itself or the jaw muscles that connect to your jaw.
Your TMJ is the joint that connects your jaw to your head, with one joint on each side of the face running upwards from the jaw to the front of the ear. The TMJ is responsible for jaw movement and plays a crucial role in speaking, eating, and facial expressions. When one or both of these joints are injured or become misaligned, you may experience pain, abnormal joint movements, and joint noises.
Your jaw muscles involve multiple muscles, some that extend to your cheek region and even ones that extend up to your temple.
Causes of TMD can include excessive teeth grinding, also referred to as bruxism which may require you to lower your daily stress levels and practise stress management techniques.
What Are the Treatment Options for Jaw Pain?
Your treatment options will depend mainly on your diagnosis, so your first step is to see a qualified dentist who can perform the relevant tests for you. If the cause is a sinus problem or cluster headaches, your dentist can refer you to the appropriate professional. If the problem originates from TMD or dental problems, your dentist can begin work immediately.
TMD-related jaw pain may require additional scans or x-rays to understand the extent of the problem. TMD treatment options can include:
- Medications such as pain killers, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and anti/anxiety medication.
- Appliance therapy, where an item such as an occlusal splint is used to minimise the effects of teeth clenching.
- Application of heat packs on the sore muscles to relax them.
- Orthodontics, where braces can be used to correct bite problems that may have led to jaw misalignment.
- Maxillofacial surgery, where surgery on the TMJ itself is performed. This option is a last resort and should only be considered after less-invasive options have failed.
Don’t Ignore Jaw Pain
Knowing how to help jaw pain and what steps you need to take if you start experiencing jaw pain is extremely important due to your jaw’s role in daily life, from eating and talking to making facial expressions. The most crucial step in fixing your jaw pain is immediately seeing your dentist or doctor so the underlying cause can be identified and your treatment can begin.
If you currently suffer from jaw pain, be it mild or debilitating, then contact our team to book an appointment with our trusted professionals today.