Jaw pain, a debilitating condition, affects millions of people in the U.S. each year. A large number of issues can cause pain in your jaw; the cause doesn’t necessarily have to be your jaw, either. Problems with your oral health, sinuses, ears, etc., can cause it, too.
Many other underlying conditions can be the cause of jaw pain. It could be something common like tooth pain or something severe like a heart attack or a dislocated jaw.
Here are some of the major causes of your jaw pain:
- TMJ disorders
Your jawbone is connected to your skull at a pair of joints known as the temporomandibular joints (or TMJs). These hinge joints in front of your ears allow you to open and close your mouth.
Temporomandibular joints and muscle disorders (TMDs) are the most common reasons for jaw pain. Several things can cause TMD, some of which are:
- An injury to your jaw joint
- Excess stimulation to your jaw joint, like grinding or clenching your teeth
- Your jaw not lining up properly
- Inflammation in the muscles near your jaw
- Certain conditions like arthritis
- A displaced disc that helps cushion the movement of the jaw
There can be other symptoms of TMD other than jaw pain, like:
- Clicking sound when you open/close your mouth
- Locked jaw
- Difficulty or pain while chewing
- Pain around your ears or face
- Persistent headaches
- Ringing in your ears
- Vision problems
If you have an issue with your TMJ, get it checked out by your GP or your dentist. They might recommend jaw exercises and over-the-counter drugs for pain. Your doctor might also recommend a bite guard to keep you from grinding your teeth. Sometimes, you might need prescription drugs or surgery to fix the issue.
- Sinus Issues
The sinuses are located close to the jaw joint, so if they become infected with a virus or bacteria, it can cause an excess of mucus that puts pressure on the jaw joint, causing jaw pain.
You might have chronic sinusitis if they stay inflamed for over three months despite treatment. It may cause difficulty breathing through your nose, and the area under your eyes might feel sensitive, too.
Like any other bone, your jawbone is also susceptible to trauma. If you’ve injured your jaw and have broken or dislocated it, your lower jawbone might move out of your TMJ. This is a medical emergency and would need immediate care.
Breaking your jaw can cause symptoms similar to other bone injuries like swelling, bruises, pain, and in this case, knocked-out or loose teeth.
Dental surgery can also sometimes cause pain in your jaw.
- Joint Problems
Autoimmune diseases affecting joints, like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, can cause inflammation in the joints, including your temporomandibular joints. This can cause pain to develop in your jaw.
Autoimmune conditions cause our body to attack its healthy tissues. These autoimmune diseases affecting your joints can also cause your bones to wear away. They may damage the spongy cartilage between your jaw joints, allowing it to move smoothly and causing your jaw to feel stiff, too.
- Heart Attack
Even though they may sound unrelated, jaw pain can sometimes be one of the signs of a heart attack. This is called referred pain. Pain that arises around a cluster of nerves, like your heart, can also be felt in another place in your body. Similarly, referred pain in the jaw can also signify joint problems elsewhere in the body.
Women, in particular, may experience jaw pain on the left side of their faces when they have a heart attack. You need to seek emergency medical care in this case. During a heart attack, you could also experience the following:
- Discomfort in your chest
- Feeling faint
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or discomfort in your back, shoulder, arm, or neck
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia is a painful condition caused when a blood vessel presses against the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve carries messages from your face to your brain. It provides sensation to the major portion of your face, including your jaw, causing jaw pain if compressed.
It usually affects one side of your face and causes a stabbing pain that can feel like a jolt of electricity. This pain can get quite severe, keeping you from comfortably performing daily activities like eating.
- Dental Issues
Sometimes jaw pain can be caused by severe tooth infections. Poor oral health can lead to gum infections that can cause pain in your jaw. Misaligned teeth can also easily cause jaw pain. Different treatment options are available for alignment issues like an overbite.
Jaw pain can arise from various other dental issues:
- Gum disease that can damage your jawbone
- Wisdom teeth
- Clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth
- Misaligned teeth
- Toothache causing cavities or abscesses
- Damaged teeth
- Cracked teeth or teeth that are sensitive to temperature
You should seek immediate medical care if you have persistent jaw pain, especially when accompanied by swelling. Though it may not be severe, it is always best to seek medical advice.
At TruCare Dentistry, we provide same-day dental care and treat all dental emergencies. If you’re looking for an emergency dentist in Roswell or the best dentist in Roswell, GA, or neighboring areas such as Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Marietta, Milton, Sandy Springs, or Woodstock, call (678) 321-7575 or visit the website to book an appointment.