Common Causes of Jaw Pain
InjuryTrauma or injury to the jaw is a prevalent cause of jaw pain. If you have been injured in one of the following events, you may start to experience jaw pain soon afterward:
- Physical assault to the face
- Sports injuries
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Industrial or workplace accidents
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)TMD is a leading cause of jaw pain. The temporomandibular joints are located on either side of the back of the jaw. They function to move the lower mandible. Muscles, ligaments, and nerves within the jaw all work together to help with chewing and speaking. An improperly aligned bite, trauma, clenching, or grinding of the teeth are several factors which can lead to a TMJ disorder. Several symptoms that might suggest a TMJ disorder include:
- Jaw clicking or popping
- Stiffness in the jaw, or the jaw might lock up
- Swelling or tenderness around the temporomandibular joint area
- Ringing in the ears; ear pain which is not related to an infection
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Tooth sensitivity or pain
- Neck, shoulder, and upper back discomfort
Cluster headachesCluster headaches can not only lead to pain in the jaw but also in the head and behind or around the eyes.
Tooth painAn abscessed tooth may lead to jaw discomfort and pain. An abscessed tooth likely comes from an infection, so you should contact and see a dental professional as soon as possible.
Sinus infection or sinusitisSinusitis leads to a significant amount of pressure under the eyes, which can also radiate down to your jaw.
Nerve irritation or damageJaw pain may arise from nerve pain. Compression of a nerve that runs through the face, called the trigeminal nerve, can lead to the condition trigeminal neuralgia. Pain in the face, upper, and lower jaw are possible with trigeminal neuralgia.
Treating Jaw PainJaw pain can worsen with continued easting and speaking. You would be well-advised to have an orthodontic evaluation as soon as possible. If the underlying issue is due to a bite issue (where the upper and lower jaws don’t line up correctly), then orthodontic treatments like braces can help fix the poor alignment and reduce pain and other symptoms. A poorly aligned bite can cause:
- TMJ discomfort
- Speech difficulties
- Chewing problems
- Premature wear of the teeth and enamel
- Social anxiety