Jaw pain is a common condition affecting millions of people. There are many health problems that can cause jaw pain. The most common cause is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Dental problems, sinusitis, rheumatoid arthritis, trigeminal neuralgia or mumps can also cause jaw pain. Having a wide range of causes of pain can make the diagnosis and treatment difficult. Accurate diagnosis is crucial for the success of the treatment. You can also alleviate jaw pain, which is mostly treated by non-invasive methods, with some simple methods you can use at home.
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Jaw pain can have many different causes, ranging from tooth problems to heart attacks. The most common causes of jaw pain are:
The jaw bone is connected to the skull by a pair of joints called temporomandibular joints (TMJ). The TMJ, located just in front of the ears, helps the opening and closing of the mouth. TMJ is also responsible for chewing muscles. TMJ disorder is the most common cause of jaw pain. This problem, which can be seen in 1 out of 8 people, is more common among women.
Damage to the jaw joint or the muscles that control your jaw movement can be caused by several factors. Risk factors for TMJ disorders:
Cluster headaches, which often cause pain behind or around the eyes, can also spread to chin depending on severity. Cluster headache is one of the most severe headache types.
Sinuses, which are air-filled spaces, are located near the jaw joint. When they become infected (sinusitis), they become filled with phlegm, which can cause pain by putting pressure on the jaw joint.
Possible dental problems that may cause jaw pain are:
Make an appointment with your dentist immediately for these problems. Rinse your mouth with lukewarm water and use floss until treatment.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition caused by compression of facial nerves. Since the trigeminal nerves cover most of the face, including the upper and lower jaws, nerve entrapment can cause severe jaw pain.
A heart attack can cause pain in other parts of the body other than the chest, such as the arms, back, neck and chin. The pain that starts in your heart can be felt elsewhere in the body. For some people, jaw pain can be the only symptom of a heart attack. Especially women may experience jaw pain on the left side of their face during a heart attack.
Caries, edema, tooth breakage or loosening caused by a blow to the jaw can cause prolonged jaw pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis (joint rheumatism) is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to accidentally attack healthy tissues, and cause swelling, and may attack the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It can damage the cartilage, which makes the jaw to move smoothly, causing movement limitation and pain in the jaw.
Other diseases that may cause jaw and facial pain include mumps, tetanus, hypothyroidism, lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, fibromyalgia and some psychiatric disorders.
Depending on the source of the jaw pain, the specialist who will start a treatment may vary. However, the first place to visit is dentist. If your dentist detects that your problem is not caused by your teeth, he/she can refer you to an ENT specialist.
Finding which problem is causing jaw pain is extremely important for the success of treatment. The following tests can provide information about the cause of jaw pain:
If the doctor suspects that the jaw pain is caused by a particular disease, he/she may request further tests. If necessary, joint decisions may be made with other departments for diagnosis.
Treatment of jaw pain is determined by the cause. However, you can relax the pain with some methods at home whenever you feel it through the treatment process:
You can also use ice packs that are sold in pharmacies for hot or cold application. However, do not forget to cover your skin with a cloth, especially when applying hot, to prevent damage to your skin.
Noninvasive treatment methods are preferred in the treatment of jaw pain. However, botox or surgical methods can be used when these methods cannot be benefited. Preferred methods in the treatment of jaw pain:
The mouthpiece is a plastic tooth protector that is produced to fit to your upper or lower teeth. This apparatus, which you will wear before bedtime, helps protect your jaw and teeth if you are grinding or squeezing your teeth in your sleep. You can find the mouthpiece in pharmacies, but you can use the mouthpiece that your dentist will make for you for a longer and more comfortable way.
If your pain persists despite the use of a mouthpiece, your dentist may prescribe muscle relaxants to reduce tension in the jaw. However, these drugs may not always help patients with TMJ disorder.
Botox is a more invasive method than other methods, and botulinum toxin is injected into the jaw muscles. This method allows the jaw muscles to be tightened and may help alleviate jaw pain, possibly caused by TMJ disorder. Botox injection is a long treatment that may last for months and may need to be repeated.
In very rare cases, if the patient has not responded to any treatment, chin surgery may be performed to correct TMJ disorder. This treatment is usually directed to people suffering from severe pain due to structural problems in the jaw joint.
Resources and References:1- TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders)2- Jaw pain and heart attacks3- Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction