Patients often associate their jaw pain with Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). Although it is possible for TMD to cause jaw issue, it is not always the culprit. In some cases, jaw pain is a symptom of another serious health issue. If the pain is severe or present for more than 24 hours, patients should follow up with their dental professional for an evaluation. Patients should never ignore jaw pain as it can be an indication of a more serious issue and should be immediately evaluated.
The following are some of the most common health issues which are associated with jaw pain:
- Heart condition
- Issues with the bite
- Over use
- Teeth grinding
When the teeth do not properly align, it can result in issues with how the teeth interact with one another, also known as the bite pattern. This can ultimately cause jaw pain for a patient. When there is a misalignment of the teeth, the teeth can start to wear unevenly and cause jaw pain. For a majority of patients, misaligned bite patterns can be corrected with the use braces and other orthodontic solutions. These treatments are used to effectively reshape the bite.
Grinding the teeth, or bruxism, often occurs when patients are sleeping. Teeth grinding can place an extreme amount of pressure on the jaws. Because the grinding often takes place when patients are sleeping, it is possible for other muscles surrounding the jaw to be impacted. Speak with your dentist to determine if it may be productive to wear a night guard to aid in protecting your teeth from grinding.
Infections and Jaw Pain
Another cause for jaw pain can be a sinus infections as it causes an increased pressure in the sinus cavity. The pain can be from a swollen sinus region, from pressure due to blocked sinuses, or from a spread of infection. When sinus infections are left untreated, they can also cause an ear infection. It is possible for ear infections to also cause jaw pain. Because the location of the ears, any form of swelling or infection can result in instant jaw pain.
Another leading cause of jaw pain is an infected or abscessed tooth. With any type of tooth or gum infection, the infection and pain are easily able to travel into the jaw area. This is particularly true for teeth which are abscessed.
Although osteoarthritis is typically associated with pain in the knees, hips, elbows and shoulders it can unfortunately occur at any joint in the body. This includes the jaw. In order to determine if a patient’s jaw pain is a result of arthritis, additional factors will need to be evaluated.
Jaw pain is often a symptom of another underlying medical issue and should be taken seriously and treated in a timely manner. The pain could be an early sign of an injury, infection, an autoimmune disorder or a heart condition. Contrary to popular belief, not all jaw pain is associated with TMD or grinding of the teeth.
It is important for patients with jaw pain to follow up with the dentist immediately to identify the cause. The dentist will help develop an effective treatment plan and help you with pain management as needed. Some patients may require a referral to a physician for additional evaluation.