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Jaw Pain Relief: Tips From Nashville’s Top Dentist

Jaw Pain Relief: Tips From Nashville’s Top Dentist

Jaw Pain Relief: Tips From Nashville’s Top Dentist
Dr. Jones
February 27, 2024

Jaw pain isn’t a lot of fun. It can make it hard to eat healthy foods. You may not want to talk as much, and that can make you withdrawn and depressed.

So many things can trigger jaw pain, and some are tied to urgent health issues while others are life-long issues like rheumatoid arthritis. Nashville’s Dr. Jody Jones has tips to help you understand the common causes of jaw pain and how to get the relief you need.

Discover the Common Causes of Jaw Pain

When you experience jaw pain, it can be one of many things, and it’s important to consider the full range of symptoms and use that to determine if you need a doctor or dentist. In most cases, a call to a dentist’s office can offer a quick answer on who to see and how urgently you should be seen.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are often tied to stress, and stress can cause jaw pain. If you’re clenching your teeth when stress builds and grinding your teeth, jaw pain is going to happen. When jaw pain pairs with sudden or recurring headaches, it could well be cluster headaches to blame.

One treatment option for cluster headaches is the use of supplemental oxygen. Prescription medications may also be used. You  do need to see your doctor to discuss the frequent headaches that are also making your jaw ache.

Dental Abscesses

A dental abscess is an infected tooth. When there’s inflammation and infection, the pain in the jaw and gums can be extreme. Don’t mess with an infection. See a Nashville dentist immediately.

With a dental abscess, antibiotics to treat the infection are used, but you’ll also need a root canal or tooth extraction. If you also are found to have gum disease, that has to be treated. You don’t want to ignore it and have an infection spread to your bloodstream.

Heart Attack

Some people experience jaw pain during a heart attack. Urgent medical attention is needed if you experience jaw pain with other symptoms like pain that radiates down the arm, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.

Injuries and Blows to the Face

An injury to the face can damage the jaw bone, muscles, and ligaments in the face. If you’re in a car accident and hit your cheekbone or face into framing, another person, or an object that flies around in the car, make sure you’re seen by a medical professional. Sports injuries are also possible, and it’s important to get checked out. 

If there is damage, you’ll need time to heal. Listen to your doctor. Bone fractures may require your jaw to be wired to allow it to heal correctly. Working with a dentist for any fractured teeth is also recommended.

Neuralgia 

There are several forms of neuralgia that can cause joint pain. Neuralgia is pain tied to nerve damage or irritation. There are several forms of neuralgia that can cause jaw pain.

Post-Herpetic Neuralgia:

If you’ve had chicken pox in the past, you have a higher risk of developing shingles later in life. After chicken pox, the virus remains dormant, and it may reactivate, usually after the age of 50. 

Around 20% of people with shingles develop post-herpetic neuralgia, a painful nerve condition where nerves experience chronic pain for months after shingles clears up. The nerves in the jaw are one area that post-herpetic neuralgia affects.

There are medications that can help. If you’re experiencing nerve pain after shingles, talk to your doctor. If you haven’t been vaccinated against shingles, it’s worth talking to your doctor about it.

Trigeminal Neuralgia:

Women over the age of 50 are more likely to experience trigeminal neuralgia. It occurs when the trigeminal nerve in the face experiences pressure near the brain stem. Facial and jaw pain while talking, chewing, and brushing the teeth are key symptoms.

The pain from trigeminal neuralgia is usually treated by administering Botox injections, muscle relaxants, or medications that prevent seizures. Because the pain increases when trying to brush and floss the teeth, it’s so important to keep up with dental care. Additional cleanings might be recommended if you’re having a hard time brushing and flossing properly.

Sinus Issues:

With a sinus infection, sinusitis, or other forms of congestion and inflammation in the sinus cavity, jaw pain is common. Because the inflammation is causing pressure to build up in the sinus cavity, it can put pressure on the jaw and teeth. Antibiotics to treat the sinus infection may be recommended. Otherwise, a decongestant can help prevent congestion that adds to the pain.

Temporal Arteritis:

Temporal arteritis occurs when the arteries in the temples become inflamed. You need to see a doctor if the jaw pain also comes with symptoms like frequent headaches, changes to your vision, such as double vision, and scalp pain. Don’t delay treatment. The risk of vision loss is too great.

Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorder (TMD):

The mandible is your jaw bone, and it meets the temporal bone in front of the ear.. The cartilage there is known as the disc. Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders occur when the joint isn’t working correctly. Common symptoms of TMD include:

  • An aching jaw
  • Clicking when you open and close your mouth
  • Difficulty chewing hard or chewy foods
  • Jaw dislocation
  • A scraping noise when you chew or open your mouth

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMDs) affect upwards of 15% of the U.S. population.

Arthritis can affect the jaw joint. There are different types of arthritis, and the ones most likely to impact the joints are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. There’s no cure for arthritis, but you can learn ways to manage the pain and discomfort.

Seek Medical Care, Don’t Try to Live With It

The biggest mistake is to decide that jaw pain is something you have to live with. Not only can it ruin your mood and cause undue stress, but some conditions impact your health. Use measures to ease the pain until you see a dentist who specializes in jaw pain.

Cold and warm compresses are temporary measures for easing pain from muscle strain and nerve issues. You can also take over-the-counter NSAIDs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen until you see a dentist. Don’t rely on those without also making an appointment to be seen. It’s better to go for an appointment and learn it’s nothing alarming than to avoid it and risk your health.

At Jody Jones DDS, you’ll have quality care in a spa-like setting. Our specialty is working with all patients, even those with dental anxiety, so don’t let your fear keep you from seeking treatment for jaw pain and disorders.