Jaw pain complicates everyday functions of life including eating, drinking, and talking. Those that suffer from this pain understand the aggravation of the problem. No one wants to live with jaw pain because it makes everyday life much more uncomfortable and difficult. Therefore, figuring out what causes the pain and learning how to treat the problem and cope with it should be the goal for those who suffer from this problem. Hopefully this information will be of value to the vast majority of individuals that suffer from jaw pain.
Jaw pain can be very frustrating, because it's often hard to say what's causing it. There are a lot of problems – most minor and some more significant – that can cause pain in a person's jaw. Finding out what the pain is coming from is the most important issue, because jaw pain can spread into the rest of the face.
It can cause headaches, neck aches, and similar aggravation that generally isn't serious but can be very debilitating and keep people from enjoying their family time and accomplishing what they need to at work. Fortunately, jaw pain can be addressed and reduced to feel better.
Many things cause jaw pain. It’s vital to understand the different cause of jaw pain because certain people are more at risk for some conditions than others. Some people associate it with serious problems, but it's usually pretty benign. Here are the most common issues that create pain in the jaw.
• Bruxism – often called teeth clenching or teeth grinding, bruxism can cause a person to clench the jaw and grind the teeth back and forth during sleeping hours. Over time this can wear the teeth down and damage the gums, but it can also cause a lot of pain in the jaw area because of the extreme pressure and tension that's put on the teeth and the jaw from the clenching and grinding during the nighttime hours.
• Toothache – when a person has a problem with a tooth it can cause the entire jaw to ache. This kind of pain is very annoying, because it is often unrelenting. It can be very strong and throbbing or it can be more of a dull ache, but it often 'hangs around' until the cause of the problem is found and corrected. Sensitive teeth can also cause jaw pain.
• TMJ – TMJ, which is short for temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition that's not always well understood. It has to do with misalignment of the jaw joint or hinge. It can cause popping when a person chews, as well as pain and discomfort. If combined with other jaw problems, TMJ can become very difficult to deal with and make talking and eating difficult and upsetting for a sufferer.
• Arthritis – although this is commonly a problem in the joints of the body, it can also affect the joints of the jaw causing individuals to experience jaw pain. It can be serious for some individuals.
• Injury – there are many instances that can injure the jaw. In some cases people actually beak their jaw. This can be extremely painful.
• Dental problems – There are several other dental problems besides a toothache that could cause jaw pain. Dental surgery could cause jaw pain, especially if the individual had to have teeth removed. Also, teeth decay can cause jaw pain.
• Headaches – some headaches can result in pain in the jaw area. These headaches are most likely more severe – probably migraines.
• Cancer – Neck cancer specifically could cause jaw pain. Although, this is not the first thing to assume is responsible for the pain in the jaw. It could be, however, it is rare.
Helping a person with jaw pain to reduce his discomfort is the goal of treatment options. Sometimes that can be done quite easily, and other times surgical intervention or other complex methods will be required to make a person feel better. There are some things a person with jaw pain can do, though, in order to start feeling better on his own.
• Buying a nightguard can help because it protects the teeth during the night. It's often made out of soft plastic, but there are also harder versions that can be made by a dentist for people who grind their teeth very severely. Nightguards can range from a few dollars at the drugstore to several hundred at the dentist's office.
• For a toothache, there are over-the-counter pain relievers. Some are applied directly to the offending tooth and gum and some are taken internally. They can correct a temporary feeling of pain, but they won't fix the actual problem. For more serious issues like TMJ, it may be necessary to consult a doctor or dentist and be treated more completely.
• Apply heat to the jaw area to loosen the muscles and relax the jaw.
• Take ibuprofen for the pain. This helps many people that are experiencing intense pain to feel better.
Treating jaw pain naturally is possible. Many people are able to overcome the symptoms they experience from the jaw pain using natural remedies. Sometimes it is the things that people don’t usually think of that make all of the difference. Here are some suggestions.
• Avoid touching the area that is affected – particularly the joint of the jaw point. In many cases it simply needs relief and time to recover from the pressure it is experiencing.
• Stop chewing gum. It is bad for the jaw and will not help the muscles in the mouth. In addition, it can actually damage the muscles.
• Make sure to stretch out the neck area on a regular basis. In many instances the neck is what is causing the damage to the jaw. It is tight and putting pressure on the jaw. Therefore, stretching it out will promote healthy movement of the joints.
• Try applying pressure to the jaw muscles Do this with the forefinger by palpating the muscles in the jaw area. Focus on the fibers that are above the sharp angle of the jaw. Once the tender points of the jaw are located, apply pressure to these points with the finger or thumb. Use enough pressure to create a dull, achy sensation. Do not overdo it, but hold the pressure for enough time to make an impact. Try 30 seconds. If possible, repeat this 30 times per day.
• Also, try applying pressure to the jaw muscles combined with controlled movement to the jaw joint. Open and close the mouth slowly when the pressure is being applied. Make sure that this does not cause any sharp pain.
• Follow recommended nutritional guidelines. The jaw muscles need healthy nutrients to operate properly. Therefore, the better the diet is, the better they will operate and the faster they will heal.
• Adopt stress relieving habits to loosen the tension on the jaw. Many times individuals that are stressed clench their teeth or grind their teeth. This causes jaw pain and can lead to further jaw problems. Therefore, it is important to alleviate stress as much as possible.
As with all injuries, it can be difficult to know whether or not to see a doctor. Jaw pain is one of those injuries. It is hard to know whether or not it is stress related or a bigger problem that needs to be addressed. It is important to use good judgment and evaluate the situation. Then determine if a doctor or dentist should be seen. Here are some guidelines that should be helpful.
• Jaw injuries resulting from traumas should be evaluated immediately. Go to the emergency room or the urgent care depending on the seriousness of the injury.
• If lock jaw occurs, a dentist or doctor is important to see. This is a common symptom of TMJ and a doctor should be consulted to help the individual recover from this problem and the resulting jaw pain.
• If stress and anxiety is accompanied by jaw pain, a doctor visit is a good idea. It might be helpful to take medications that can decrease the stress a person is experiencing. This might eliminate some of the jaw pain.
• Individuals with arthritis that experience jaw pain should talk to their doctor. They could be having joint problems in their jaw.
A lot of managing the pain from a sore jaw will be the individual’s responsibility. The choices he or she makes will largely affect the jaw pain. For example, softer foods will be better than foods that are difficult to eat. In addition, resting the jaw is important. Avoiding situations that require too much discussion might be beneficial to this individual.
Lastly, make sure to listen to the doctor. Take medications that are recommended. Massage the area. Also, consider implementing remedies that will loosen the jaw area. Try stretches and heat. Both can help the individual best manage the pain. It may seem like a constant, ongoing battle, however putting a little time and attention towards healing the jaw will make a large difference. And when the pain gets out of hand, the doctor is always available to help.