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What is Jaw Pain? What Causes Jaw Pain?

Jaw pain is one of the most common conditions. In some cases, it can progress to different parts of the face. It is a pain that can occur due to many different reasons. It causes difficulty in actions such as speaking, chewing and swallowing. It can be mild or severe. While it is generally known as problems that fall within the field of dentistry, the underlying causes should be determined for treatment.

What is Jaw Pain? What Causes Jaw Pain?

What is Jaw Pain?

Most people do not care about these pains because they do not affect their daily life too much and do not feel the need to see a doctor. However, especially if it is severe and persists for a long time, it will not go away on its own and may need to be treated. In case of prolonged and recurring pain, a specialist should be consulted and the underlying cause of the discomfort should be determined.

Why Jaw Pain Occurs

The causes of jaw pain can be many. Each cause can lead to pain of a different nature or to different accompanying symptoms. The answers to questions such as "What causes jaw pain?" can be listed as follows:

Jaw Joint (Temporomandibular Joint-TME) Diseases 
TMJ diseases are among the most common causes of jaw pain. According to research, this disease is seen in approximately one in 8 people. It is a problem more common in women than in men.

  • Jaw injuries and traumas 
  • Diseases such as arthritis
  • Tooth grinding
  • Disorders due to jaw and tooth structure
  • Inflammation of the muscles around the jaw

Symptoms associated with TMJ diseases:

  • Noise when opening the mouth
  • Pain or aching in the face, ear or jaw
  • Recurrent and prolonged headache
  • Tinnitus and dizziness
  • Impaired visual function
  • Difficulty chewing 
  • Stress

As a result of some traumas, the structure of the jawbone may deteriorate, fracture or dislocate. After such situations, pain, bruising, decay, swelling, tooth fracture or tooth loss may occur in the jawbone.

Tooth and Gum Problems
There are some dental conditions that can cause jaw pain. These are;

  • Development of tooth decay or abscess
  • Cracks or fractures in teeth
  • Gum diseases such as gum recession
  • 20 wisdom teeth erupting
  • Disordered tooth alignment
  • Clenching or grinding teeth

Joint Problems
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune joint disease that occurs when the immune system damages its own cells. This disease can damage the jaw structure by involving the temporomandibular joint.

Some Diseases
Although not very common, diseases such as mumps or tetanus can also be among the causes of jaw pain. Mumps caused by viruses can cause swelling of the salivary glands and restrict jaw movements.

Heart Attack
Pain under the left jaw can be a symptom of a heart attack. At the time of a heart attack, pain coming from nerves close to the heart may feel like it is in a different part of the body. Such conditions are called 'reflected pain'. Pain in the left jaw or lower jaw can also be referred pain. It can also radiate to the shoulder and inner arm.

Sinuses are cavities in the nose and under the eyes. The condition that occurs when these cavities become inflamed is called sinusitis. In chronic cases, it can cause pain in the upper part of the jaw.

Trigeminal Neuralgia
The nerve that transmits the sensation of the facial area to the brain is called the trigeminal nerve. Pain can develop when blood vessels press on this nerve. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can also cause such conditions. Jaw pain in trigeminal neuralgia is mostly unilateral. These pains, which are often seen as upper jaw pain, are often expressed by patients as stabbing or electric shock.

Cluster Headache
It is a type of pain that comes on suddenly or progresses to a certain level. It can be severe enough to wake you up at night. These pains, which usually affect the eye or temple area, can also cause pain in the jaw.

Tumors and Cysts
Tumors and cysts can develop in the jawbone, oral and facial tissues. They are usually benign structures. However, they can grow rapidly and negatively affect dental health. For this reason, odontogenic tumors and cysts may require surgical removal.

How to relieve jaw pain

"How does jaw pain go away?" In order to answer the question, the condition causing the pain should be determined and treatment planning should be made depending on that condition. There are a number of applications that can help relieve and relieve pain before permanent solution. These applications are as follows:

  • Applying a hot towel over the sore part
  • Applying cold on the painful area
  • Using painkillers on doctor's advice
  • Massaging the aching jaw joint without too much pressure
  • Physical therapy applications

Jaw Pain Treatment

Treatment of jaw pain, is applied to the problem causing the pain. If the pain is caused by an infection, antibiotics or antiviral medication can be applied after the doctor's prescription.
In case of trauma or any structural disorder, surgical treatment can be applied. People who have problems such as teeth grinding or clenching during sleep may be offered night plates or muscle relaxants to use.
Topical ointments containing capsaicin can be used if the doctor deems it necessary for pain caused by nervous disorders. In case of swelling or inflammation in the chin, steroid creams may be prescribed by the doctor.
In people with migraine and tension-type headaches, the use of painkillers, if deemed necessary by the doctor, is beneficial in preventing jaw pain. However, when the pain develops due to dental or gum diseases, oral and dental care should be taken with due care and dental treatments should be performed immediately. 
In cases where there is no physiological problem in the development of jaw pain, psychological factors are also taken into consideration and evaluated in this respect. In case of psychological disorders, a number of antidepressant drugs and cognitive therapy methods can be applied by a specialist psychiatrist.
In addition to all these treatments, a different personalized treatment can also be applied. For this reason, the treatment plan deemed necessary by specialist doctors should be followed.

Updated Date:03 March 2023Creation Date:04 August 2023