Jaw pain can range from a dull ache to an unbearable throb. It can be debilitating, leaving you unable to eat, speak, or even sleep properly. In addition, there’s no one reason that jaw pain can dull your day. There’s a number of causes behind jaw pain, from your sinuses and ears to your teeth or jaw itself. The treatment depends on what that cause is. We highly recommend seeing a professional healthcare provider if you are plagued by jaw pain. In the meantime, read through our article to figure out why you feel pain in your jaw and what to do about it for a better idea of what ails you.
Jaw pain is not a common sign of ageing that affects everybody like wrinkles or whitening hair does. Ageing brings about several changes inside our bodies as well, and one of these is the decline in healing responses. We experience pain and inflammation more often, as well as weakness in the joints. At this time, issues or conditions that have been dormant for years can start to surface. Once kept at bay by our healing response, they can prove to be challenging as we grow older.
The jaw joint is one such target, especially for people with diets involving hard, chewy food. In addition, people with the problem of grinding their teeth, or who have suffered an injury to the jaw when younger, may suddenly experience jaw pain.
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is basically understood as the joint that allows your mouth to move. Our lower jaws move, while our upper jaws stay stationary. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is that which connects your lower jaw to your skull. These hinge joints on the sides of our jaw enables the movement of the lower jaw. Damages to the joint can cause Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD).
There are several things that cause damage to the jaw, some of which are:
Myofascial pain syndrome – Pain from the muscles or the sheaths that surround the muscle (fascia). The centre of pain is usually in the jaw muscles. Alongside pain, you will have restricted jaw movement and a clicking/popping noise when you move your jaw
Teeth grinding (bruxism) – With this condition, the teeth grinding mostly happens at night while asleep, and can be due to stress. You may experience a dull or sore jaw when you awaken in the morning.
Malocclusion – Occlusion is the movement of the upper and lower jaws, coming into contact with each other when eating. Improper or incomplete occlusion can lead to jaw problems in the long haul.
Injuring the jaw joint – Injuring your jaws, or over stimulating them can also lead to TMD.
Sinuses are air-filled cavities located near the jaws. A sinus infection can lead to excess mucus production. The resulting inflammation and mucus production can put pressure on the jaws, causing them to ache. You will also likely experience pain in other parts of your face, like your forehead, or the bridge of your nose.
Due to their proximity to the jaws, problems in your teeth can cause your jaws to ache. The pain radiates into your jaws, making it difficult or unbearable to bite. This may at times even make it a struggle to talk, depending on how grave the pain is.
What Can I Do About Jaw Pain
There are some things you can do to get temporary relief from the pain. You also have slightly more long-term options to see if they reduce your jaw pain or not.
- Pop a pill: Taking an over-the-counter pain relief pill like acetaminophen or ibuprofen will provide temporary relief from the pain.
- Massages: Try to gently massage the sides of your face, cheeks, temples and jaw area. Ensure you are gentle, as pressure in the wrong places could heighten your pain instead of relieving it.
- Use a cold compress: Put a cold compress or an ice pack on your jaw. Cold is known to reduce pain.
- Soft foods: Switch to softer, easily chewable foods for a few days to see if it helps relieve pressure and pain from your jaws.
- Mouth guard: This ventures into the realm of medical solutions. Your doctor may prescribe a mouth guard to use at night, to lessen the pressure on your jaws from grinding them or keeping them tensed.
- Surgery: In the rare occasion, you may need surgery to help alleviate the problem that is causing your jaw ache. This could be dental or even a jaw surgery. However, it’s important to consult a medical professional before reaching this conclusion.
Jaws are quite important, cosmetically as well as functionally. While having an undefined jawline is a cosmetic problem, jaw pain affects the functionality of your jaws. It can prevent you from leading life as normal, disrupting you with the pain. Now that you have a better idea of what could be causing our jaw pain, you’re better prepared to deal with it.