When a patient experiences jaw pain, their first thought is that it may be the condition known as Temporomandibular Disorder (TD). In reality, many adults experience jaw pain and there are a number of possible causes besides TD. If you have been experiencing jaw pain that lasts more than 24 hours or is severe you should contact your dentist today and schedule a dental appointment. Below is more information on the many possible causes of jaw pain.
Possible Causes of Jaw Pain
Jaw pain can be caused by a number of oral health issues, including:
- Teeth Grinding during sleep puts an excessive amount of pressure on the jawbones. Grinding can also affect the muscles surrounding the jaw. If you wake up with a sore jaw on a regular basis, you should have a conversation with your dentist about the pain you are experiencing.
- Bad Bite: When teeth are not in alignment, referred to as a misaligned bite pattern, it can cause pain in the jaw. A misaligned bite pattern will cause uneven wear on the teeth. Treatment for misaligned bite patterns include braces or similar devices. Treating the bite pattern will also treat the jaw pain over time.
- Overuse: Excessive gum chewing or other chewing habits can result in overuse of the jaw leading to constant pain. Fortunately, overuse of the jaw can easily be fixed by resting the jaw joint and muscles.
- Infections: Infections, including sinus or ear infections or infections in the mouth may be the cause of jaw pain. Sinus infections create pressure in the sinus cavity which can cause pain. In the mouth, an infected tooth can also result in a great deal of pain. If you think the jaw pain you are experiencing is possibly related to an infection, you should seek immediate medical care to avoid more dangerous risks that may occur if the infection is left untreated.
- Joint Diseases: Osteoarthritis, is a medical condition that sets into joints throughout the body and causes pain. Often the condition causes pain in the knees or hips, however, osteoarthritis can set into any joint in the body, including the jaw. If you talk with your dentist about your jaw pain, they will help you determine if arthritis is the possible cause.
- Heart condition: While it is rare, a dull constant pain in the lower left jaw may be an indicator of a heart problem. Similar to the pains in the chest or in the left arm, heart conditions can cause pain in the left jaw. If you are experiencing pain in your left jaw, especially if it is paired with shortness of breath or pains in your chest, you should seek immediate medical attention.
The most important takeaway is that jaw pain is commonly the symptom of another, potentially serious, underlying medical condition. While jaw pain may be minor and due to jaw overuse or a misaligned bite pattern, it may also be a sign of an infection, injury, or heart condition. Your dentist can help you determine the cause of your pain and identify the right treatment plan for you.