Jaw pain can be intense and throbbing, or mildly uncomfortable; jaw pain can occur suddenly without warning, or build up gradually over a period of time. The symptoms of jaw pain vary, and so do the causes. Understanding the cause of jaw pain is important in determining the best course of action for treatment.
One of the most common causes of jaw pain is TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorder. TMD has many different causes, and it affects the temperomandibular joint of the jaw. Besides causing jaw pain, TMD can also cause the jaw to become locked, or stuck, either opened or closed. TMD can also cause a popping or clicking sound in the jaw that occurs during chewing and opening and closing of the mouth. Medical attention is required to determine the individual cause and course of treatment for TMD.
Many people grind their teeth while they are sleeping, and they are often unaware that it is happening. Some people will grind their teeth when feeling tense or stressed. Teeth grinding can damage the teeth, as well as causing jaw pain, and can lead to more problems if not treated. A dentist can provide a mouth guard that is worn at night to prevent teeth grinding while sleeping, as well as recommending stress-relieving techniques.
A cavity, abscess, or gum disease can also cause pain to radiate throughout the jaw. All of these conditions require medical attention from a dentist to treat properly. If a person’s teeth are severely misaligned or have gaps between them, the acts of biting and chewing can put stress on the jaw, causing pain. This requires treatment from a dentist as well, who will likely refer the patient for orthodontia care such as braces and retainers.
Osteoarthritis is a common joint disorder that affects the body’s joints as a result of age and overuse. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage and surrounding tissues of joints to break down. People with osteoarthritis are usually affected in all of their joints, but it often begins in the temporomandibular joint of the jaw. Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be treated using a regimen of rest therapy, or limiting use of the jaw, and anti-inflammatory medications.
One of the lesser-recognized symptoms of a heart attack is jaw pain. During a heart attack, the blood supply to the heart is blocked, and this causes the body to sense pain in various areas. The lower jaw rather than the upper jaw is usually affected during a heart attack. If jaw pain is accompanied by one or more of the other symptoms of a heart attack, then emergency treatment is a necessity.
Consult with Dr. Pousson today to learn more about your jaw pain and the treatment options that are available. Our staff is ready to help you have a healthy life and a beautiful smile.