Jaw Pain Treatments

Treatment Options For Jaw Pain

Jaw pain is a fairly common condition that millions of Americans deal with on a regular basis. It is a little easier to treat if the cause of your pain was from an acute trauma, like getting hit in the face by a baseball or hitting the ground when you fall of your bike, but that’s not the only way jaw pain develops. Other times, problems with the joints and muscles are to blame, and diagnosing and treating these injuries are a little trickier. We take a closer look at jaw joint pain in today’s blog.

Causes and Symptoms of Jaw Joint Pain

Your jaw joints, also known as temporomandibular joints, help to facilitate the opening and closing of your jaw. These joints are located on each side of your head, and they work together with muscles and ligaments in the area to help you speak, swallow and chew. If one of these structures is damaged or functions improperly, one of the most common side effects is pain. But what can cause problems with these joints and structures? Common causes of TMJ pain include:

  • Jaw arthritis
  • Dislocations
  • Tooth and jaw misalignment
  • Teeth grinding or overstressing the joint

As we mentioned above, pain is the most common symptom, but it may also be accompanied by tenderness, clicking, a popping sound or difficulty moving the jaw.

Diagnosing and Treating Jaw Pain

If you are dealing with jaw pain, make an appointment with your dentist or your primary care physician. The diagnostic process will include listening to your symptoms, a physical exam to look for signs of joint problems, and potential imaging exams to pinpoint the exact problem. One of the biggest hurdles in treating jaw pain is an accurate diagnosis, because if you’re not treating the underlying problem, you’re unlikely to find relief, so a comprehensive exam by a specialist is important.

Treatment of jaw joint problems will depend on the root cause of your pain. For some individuals, lifestyle modifications of eating softer foods, avoiding chewing gum, heat pack application and practicing jaw relaxation techniques will be the only treatment options necessary. For others with more serious joint issues, physical therapy or jaw strengthening exercises may help to prevent problems caused by arthritis, while muscle relaxants or mouthguards can protect against teeth grinding at night.

In rare cases, your dentist may recommend a dental operation to correct the issue. These can range from adjusting an uneven bite to reshaping your teeth, depending on what is necessary. Your dentist can explain the operations as well as any other treatment modalities should a dental procedure be necessary.

Chronic Jaw Pain

Chronic Jaw Pain Treatment Options

Jaw pain is an issue that affects millions of Americans on a daily basis. Sometimes it is the result of a previous trauma to the gum, while other times it is brought on by the development of oral or other health conditions. Sometimes jaw pain can be treated by your dentist, while other causes are best handled by your family physician. Below, we take a closer look at why your jaw hurts and how to best treat jaw pain.

Causes and Symptoms of Jaw Pain

As we alluded to above, jaw pain can be the result of damage from acute trauma, but there are plenty of other not so obvious causes of jaw pain. Some conditions that can lead to jaw pain include:

  • Toothaches
  • Infections
  • Tooth Grinding
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Degeneration or Damage to the Temporomandibular Joint
  • Sinus Problems
  • Arthritis

Symptoms of the jaw pain vary slightly based on the underlying cause of the condition, but in addition to pain, many individuals complain of tenderness of the jaw, headaches, swelling, and pain in the ear or while biting and chewing food.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Jaw Pain

If you are dealing with chronic jaw pain, bring it up to your dentist or family physician at your next appointment. Most people just assume it’s an issue for your doctor, but as you can see by the above list, many jaw pain issues are housed in the mouth, and your dentist can be a great resource. Wherever you go, your specialist will likely begin by asking about your symptoms, taking a look at your jaw and mouth, and then confirming their suspicions with help of an imaging test like an X-ray.

Your dentist will then formulate a treatment plan based on what they saw on the X-ray. Treatment techniques are developed on an individual basis, so what works for one person may not work for someone else, but some common treatment options include muscle relaxants, physical therapy exercises, mouth protectors, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, root canal, tooth extraction or periodontal treatment. Your dentist can go into greater detail on each treatment based on what is best suited to your situation.

Minnesota Dentist

As you can see, since many of the causes of jaw pain are caused by teeth or mouth issues, it is imperative to practice good oral health. The more proactive you are at caring for your teeth and gums, the more likely you are to avoid jaw problems. For more tips on how to best care for your oral health, or to talk to Dr. Brooks about your jaw pain, reach out to his clinic today.