Jaw pain - Causes and Treatment

Jaw pain - Causes and Treatment

Posted by MOST DENTAL on Jan 19 2021, 09:33 PM

Jaw pain - Causes and Treatment

Jaw pain can be a painful condition that impairs your ability to eat and speak. Sometimes, it can even affect your speaking ability too. No matter what the type of joint pain is, professional help may be required to find its root cause and give appropriate treatment. There can be many reasons for the cause of jaw pain; it can be from your sinuses and ears to your teeth or jaw itself. 

Reasons for jaw pain

Mostly, jaw pain can be caused as a result of an abnormality or injury to the joint of your jaw. Here are some of the causes of jaw pain:

  • Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMD)

Temporomandibular Joints are the hinge joints that connect the jaw to the skull. This joint helps the movement of the jaw up and down and side to side so that you can chew, talk or yawn. If this joint is damaged, inflamed, or injured, it will lead to a localized pain disorder known as a temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMJ syndrome can lead to pain with chewing, clicking, popping of the jaw, nerve inflammation, swelling on the sides of the face, and headaches, etc. 

Causes of TMD include:

  • Pain from the muscles that control jaw movement
  • Injury or damage to the jaw 
  • Excess stimulation of the jaw 
  • A displaced disc that usually helps cushion the movements of the jaw
  • Arthritis of the protective disc that surrounds the jaw joint
  • Several factors can lead to damage to the jaw joint or the muscles that control your jaw movement. They include: 
  • Grinding of teeth at night
  • Stress and anxiety that leads to involuntarily clenching of the jaw 
  • Trauma to the jaw joint

Jaw pain can also be caused by the factors that include the following:  

  • Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches can cause pain behind or around one of the eyes, but the pain can radiate to the jaw. 

  • Sinus problems

If the sinus becomes infected with a virus or bacterium, it can cause an excess of mucus that puts pressure on the jaw joint, causing pain.

  • Tooth pain

Severe tooth infections or dental abscesses can cause severe pain that radiates to the jaw.

  • Trigeminal neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is caused by nerve compression on the trigeminal nerve that provides sensation to the face, including the areas of the upper and lower jaws.

Jaw pain relief

For immediate relief, at home.

  • Applying ice or heat on the jaw area can relax overactive jaw muscles and relieve pain. 
  • Massage the affected joint.  Press the sore areas of your jaw, such as the area right before your ear where your jaw joints meet. Massage the area in a circular motion for 5 to 10 rotations.
  • Wear a nightguard during bedtime will help stop unconscious grinding of teeth.

Nonsurgical treatment:

  • Using pain medications or medications to relax the muscles of the jaw.
  • With the help of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)where low-level electrical currents relax the jaw and reduce jaw pain.
  • Ultrasound treatment applied to the TMJ to reduce pain or improve muscle movement.
  • When injected into the muscles of the face, Botox cosmetic injections can reduce tension in the muscle and nerves of the jaw and prevent it from clenching, possibly helping to relieve jaw pain due to TMD. 
  • Radio wave therapy that creates a low-level electrical stimulation to the joint to increase blood flow and reduce jaw pain.

Surgical treatment:

  • When the jaw is locked shut or swollen, liquids are injected into the joint to wash it out. The procedure is called Arthrocentesis.
  • Corrective dental treatments to improve your bite and align your teeth.
  • By arthroscopy, where a small incision is made in front of the ear, and the doctor inserts an endoscope to view the damage and scar tissue inside the jaw and remove or wash it if necessary.
  • Open-joint surgery under anesthesia, used for the most severe cases.


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