Jaw pain can arise for a variety of reasons such as dental issues from gum disease, poor fitting bridges or dentures, temporomandibular disorder (TMD), an abscessed tooth, stress and anxiety, teeth grinding, sinus issues, osteomyelitis (an infection in the bloodstream, which affects the jaw joint, facial swelling and fever, heart attack, injury to the jaw joints, arthritis in the jaw joints and even prolonged chewing of gum!
To find relief from temporary jaw pain, you can use hot or cold compresses (a hot water bottle or an ice pack) held to the jaw, taking Vitamin C to help with inflammation and eat soft foods instead of hard or chewy foods. You can even engage in ways to relieve stress, like meditation, deep breathing or yoga stretches.
If you have pain in the jaw joints or the ear when you chew or yawn, you may be experiencing the effects of TMJ/TMD, which encompasses pain in the jaw joint, muscle pain, or ligament pain. TMJ/TMD arises when the jaw joints degenerate or become misaligned. Symptoms may range from popping or clicking noises when you talk or chew and sometimes turn into severe pain or a locked jaw over time.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. It is estimated that over 10 million Americans experience the effects of TMJ/TMD and is often first noticed in the teen years. What is notable is that scientists have not yet determined what exactly creates this affliction.
TMJ/TMD pain may be triggered when you bite your nails or cheeks, chew on an object like ice or a pen, or clench your teeth during the day. It can arise in those who have osteoporosis, rheumatism, migraines, lower back pain and even menopause. Pain can arise during severe weather changes such as cold weather, which brings on muscle pain. Typically, TMJ can come and go throughout your life, although for some it can steadily worsen.
In cases of severe TMJ/TMD, you may find relief by wearing a dental mouthguard or other oral appliance to minimize the effects of nighttime teeth grinding, although it should be noted that not all teeth grinders have TMJ/TMD. Fortunately, our team specializes in helping people treat musculoskeletal disorders and chronic pain from TMJ, so we can determine if your pain is coming from the muscles or joints in the jaw.
Treatment is generally done using conservative methods of relieving pain and stress on the joints (hence ice packs or warm compresses, a soft-foods diet, OTC pain medications and stress-reducing activities or a mouth guard).
If the muscles are causing the jaw pain, a muscle relaxant or BOTOX injection can give you relief, while treating the joints might involve steroids or an injectable anesthetic. Joint issues that don’t respond to these treatments might require surgery and is irreversible so is often a last resort measure.
No matter what the cause of your jaw pain, if you are suffering from continuous jaw pain, we invite you to reach out to us for the relief you need. We are here to help!