What’s causing my jaw pain?

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If you’re experiencing dull, sharp, and throbbing pain in your jaw, you become keenly aware of how necessary your jaw is for everyday functions like talking and eating. Many people with jaw pain will attempt to reduce their symptoms with pain medicine, but in order to get rid of the pain for good, you should seek treatment from your dentist.

Jaw pain may indicate a serious oral or overall health problem. If this is the case, the sooner you receive a diagnosis and treatment, the better. And even if your jaw pain is being caused by a simple problem, it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

These 5 oral and overall health problems may be the cause of your jaw pain:

1.    Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, usually happens at night. Because of this, many people don’t realize they grind their teeth until they experience jaw pain and other symptoms like:

  • Headaches
  • Tooth fractures
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Loose teeth

Most of the time, bruxism is caused by stress, but it can also be caused by malocclusion, crooked teeth, or missing teeth.

If you wake up with jaw pain and a dull headache, teeth grinding may be the cause. Your dentist can help diagnose what is causing your teeth grinding and treat the underlying problem or fit you for a mouthguard to protect your teeth at night.

2.    TMJ Disorder

Your temporomandibular joints are responsible for opening and closing your mouth. Improper function of these joints may be caused by teeth grinding, dental misalignment, stress, arthritis, or gum chewing. If TMJ disorder is what’s causing your jaw pain, you might also experience these symptoms:

  • Throbbing pain in or around the ear
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Dizziness
  • Facial swelling
  • Aching facial pain
  • Locking or popping of the jaw joint

Your dentist will treat this issue with a conservative treatment or refer you to a specialist, depending on the severity of your TMJ disorder.

3.    Oral health problems

Common dental problems that induce jaw pain include:

  • Cavities: Tooth decay that has not been treated will often cause pain to radiate through your jaw.
  • Periodontal disease: As the infection from gum disease spreads, it may cause damage to your jawbone.
  • Sensitive, cracked, or crowed teeth: If your pain is more apparent when your teeth are exposed to hot or cold substances or pressure, this may be the cause.

4.    Sinus problems

Because your sinuses are close to your jaw joints, they can impact one another. If your sinuses become infected with a virus or bacteria, the excess mucous will put pressure on the jaw joints and cause a dull pain in your jaw, forehead, teeth, and/or between your eyes.

5.    Heart attack

Occasionally, pain from one area of your body will transfer to another. While chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack, other symptoms to look for include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Back pain
  • Jaw pain

These symptoms occur mostly in women but can be warning signs for men as well. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, this may be a sign that you should call 911 or your primary care physician.

Seek Treatment Today

Waiting to get treatment for jaw pain can lead to serious complications for your oral and overall health. Contact your dentist or general physician today.

If you live in the Atlanta, GA area, Dr. Richard L. Rodgers can examine your mouth and jaw to find and treat the underlying issue. Schedule your initial consultation today at 404-577-6620.

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