There’s probably nothing more debilitating or distracting than pain in the mouth area. Whether it’s a toothache or persistent jaw pain, whether it’s sharp or dull, pain can seriously impact your day-to-day life and ability to do just about anything.
More so than this, jaw pain or toothache is really difficult to avoid or ignore because we use our mouths for speaking, eating, drinking, and more. If you’re experiencing debilitating jaw pain and wondering what causes pain in the jaw joint, this blog is for you.
Read on to learn about the potential causes and when to seek professional help.
What Causes Pain in the Jaw Joint?
Your jaw is one of the hardest working parts of the body. We open and close our mouths countless times a day without thinking twice about the important role your jaw joint plays during this action.
What’s more, your jaw relies on one singular joint that works like a sliding hinge each time you open or close your mouth. Known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), it’s highly prone to overuse.
With all of this in mind, here are some of the common culprits behind jaw tenderness:
TMJ Disorder (TMD)
This is probably one of the most prolific disorders of the jaw. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can be extremely painful and often causes referred pain that runs down into the face, neck, and shoulders.
TMJ symptoms range from a serious ache in the jaw joint, a popping or clicking sound when opening the mouth, and pain when chewing.
While there is no definitive cause of TMD, some common causes include misaligned teeth, injury to the jaw, arthritis, teeth grinding, or an improper bite.
In terms of therapy for temporomandibular joint disorders, there are a few options at your disposal. Some include heat or ice therapy, Botox injections, stress reduction, or surgery to repair the jaw joint.
Various Dental Conditions
Much of the time a range of dental conditions can cause referred pain up into the jaw joint.
Some of these include the likes of tooth damage, tooth abscesses, gum disease, and misaligned teeth. These conditions tend to limit healthy blood flow to the nerve endings in the gums, which can cause jaw pain.
Also known as teeth grinding, this is a condition often caused by stress. It’s no secret that stress causes tension throughout the entire body, and many people tend to carry that tension in their jaw and face muscles.
Teeth grinding is the result of unmanaged stress and tension. It often takes place unconsciously while you’re sleeping. Some of the most common symptoms of bruxism include persistent jaw pain, teeth sensitivity, and tension headaches.
Most people might not realize just how much blocked or damaged sinuses can cause pain in the face and jaw.
Your sinuses are essentially air-filled cavities that sit at the top of the nose canal, pretty close to the jaw joints. Their primary job is to filter air and moisture from the nose.
But when they become infected, irritated, or filled with too much mucus, this can result in large amounts of pressure that causes pain in the jaw joints.
Muscle and Nerve Pain
As you may already know, the upper back, neck, and head are all connected by an intricate network of muscles, tendons, and nerves.
When any of these muscles, nerves, or tendons become irritated or inflamed this can result in a huge amount of referred pain. One of the most common areas people experience this referred pain is in the jaw.
Sometimes muscles, nerves, or tendons become inflamed by either injury or infection. Some conditions such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis (MS), or trigeminal neuralgia can also cause serious pain in the jaw joint.
Sometimes the cause of your jaw pain could be more obvious than others. Nevertheless, it’s important not to underplay your level of pain, especially if you’ve suffered some form of blunt trauma to the face.
Physical injury to the jaw can often lead to prolonged issues, such as TMD, as mentioned above.
When to Seek Professional Help
Nobody should have to live with persistent jaw pain. If you begin to experience pain in the jaw joint, and can’t pinpoint why, that’s enough impetus to see a professional.
The need to see a healthcare provider becomes all the more important with the following factors:
- Your jaw pain persists, despite remedies you’ve tried at home, i.e. hot or cold therapy, reducing stress, etc.
- You suspect your jaw pain is the result of some type of injury or infection (especially if you have a fever)
- Over-the-counter pain medication is no longer helping you
Leaving jaw pain unattended for a prolonged period of time can also result in other unwanted conditions. Just some of these include persistent tension headaches, tinnitus, lockjaw, hearing loss, muscle spasms, and more.
It’s also important to bear in mind that jaw pain could be the result of a more sinister condition, that’s why it’s so important to not ignore it. In some cases, it could be the result of an underlying heart condition.
If you experience persistent jaw pain accompanied by dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, shoulder pain, or face swelling, see a doctor right away.
Broaden Your General Knowledge With Us
Persistent pain in the jaw joint is not normal. In fact, living with any form of long-term pain is not normal. If you’re worried about your pain levels and how they’re impacting your everyday life, it’s time to visit a professional.
Learn how to take make your health a top priority and explore the rest of this site for more.