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04 / 11 / 2018

Jaw Pain Problems

Jaw pain is a surprisingly common problem with many different origins. Many people automatically assume that their teeth are the cause and this is often the case. But there are a number of other medical conditions that can contribute to this issue. This means that pinpointing the exact reason for the problem isn’t always so straightforward. But correctly identifying the cause of jaw pain is the key to swift, successful treatment. That’s why it’s vital to visit your dentist if you are experiencing symptoms.

At the Lighthouse Dental Practice, our team is led by Dr Tocca and Dr Griffin. They are experienced in all areas of general, cosmetic and complex dentistry, including the issue of jaw pain. Our qualified dental nurses and knowledgeable practice receptionist work with us to provide additional support.

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

This is one of the most common causes of jaw pain. The temporomandibular joint connects your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. Temporomandibular Disorder causes pain both in the joints themselves and in the muscles that control jaw movement. There are a number of different signs and symptoms of TMD. This actually makes it harder to diagnose as some of these symptoms are also indicative of other problems. You should visit your dentist if you experience jaw pain so we can make an accurate diagnosis.

The most common signs and symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorder include:

  • Pain and tenderness in or around the jaw, face, ear or temple area
  • Pain and tenderness in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Headaches (especially around the temples)
  • Earache
  • Pain and/or pressure behind the eyes
  • Difficulty chewing or pain
  • Pain or difficulty fully opening your mouth
  • Clicking or popping sounds when your mouth opens or closes
  • Facial swelling
  • Jaw ‘locking’ or the feeling that it’s ‘stuck’.

Temporomandibular Disorder can be caused by a number of different issues. These include an uneven bite, injury, arthritis and wear and tear of the jaw joints. There are a number of steps you can take to ease some of the milder symptoms. Eating soft food, such as soup and pasta, is helpful. Painkillers, including paracetamol and ibuprofen, can provide relief. Heat packs (or ice packs) can also be soothing, as can gently massage the muscles affected. Certain temporomandibular jaw exercises (ask your dentist) can also help to manage the pain.

Temporomandibular Disorder is not usually serious and it often gets better on its own. You can help to further alleviate the symptoms by limiting large jaw movements, such as yawning. And avoid chewing gum and biting your nails.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding can be more serious you think. It can cause severe damage to your teeth and is also one of the leading causes of jaw pain. Teeth grinding and/or jaw clenching is also known as bruxism. While it doesn’t always cause symptoms, jaw pain, earache and headaches are classic side effects. Worn-down teeth and even broken fillings can occur in severe cases.

Most symptoms disappear when the tooth grinding stops. The problem is, many people aren’t aware they are even doing it. Bruxism often happens during sleep. As the condition is often stress-related, people also grind their teeth while they’re anxious or concentrating on a task.

There are a number of potential treatments for teeth grinding. If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard or mouth splint. Basic models are available to purchase over-the-counter at many pharmacies. However, a custom-made dental appliance will fit more precisely, work more effectively and last much longer.If you grind your teeth while you’re awake, habit-reversal techniques may offer a solution. Stress-relieving strategies, such as deep breathing, yoga, visualisation or cognitive behavioural therapy, are another option.

Dental abscess

An abscessed tooth occurs when the dental nerve, or pulp, becomes infected. More generally, a dental abscess can form inside a tooth, in the gum or even in the bone that holds a tooth a place. An untreated dental cavity, which then gives rise to a bacterial infection, is a common cause.

As the bacteria spreads, it can cause significant jaw pain, which may also affect the ear and neck. Abscesses can be serious, especially if the infection starts to spread. It may become hard to open your mouth fully and you may even experience difficulty swallowing and breathing.

If you suspect you have an abscess, you must see your dentist as soon as possible. They will drain any pus that is present and remove the source of the infection. Root canal therapy is a common option. This procedure allows your dentist to treat the abscess, without removing the tooth. If root canal treatment isn’t possible, extraction may be necessary.

Osteomyelitis

This is one of the less common causes of jaw pain but is still worth being aware of. Osteomyelitis is a bone infection. It most often affects the leg, back and arm bones. However, osteomyelitis of the jaw can cause jaw pain, swelling and fever. In theory, anyone can develop osteomyelitis but there are certain risk factors. For example, you’re more likely to contract it if you have recently broken a bone or have a weakened immune system. Fortunately, osteomyelitis can usually be treated with antibiotics or in extreme cases by removing the affected areas of bone. As with all jaw pain issues, your dentist will be able to make an accurate diagnosis.

If you’d like more information about jaw pain and how to treat it, call our practice now on 01473257379. Our team will be pleased to assist you.

We are here to help you
If you would like to speak to a member of our friendly team about any of the issues in this article please visit our contact page or call us on 01473 257379.

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“Wow! The service I received from Jane was absolutely fantastic; she went above and beyond ...“

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“I am 70 years of age, and I have always been afraid to go to the dentist. A broken tooth ...“

Earlmain L

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“I booked an emergency treatment appointment, having had a tooth for a few days and was una...“

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“As a nervous patient, I was very worried about having my tooth removed. I was instantly pu...“

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