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What Causes Abnormal Jaw Pains and How to Treat It

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Abnormal jaw pain can be an indicator of a serious health problem, especially if it occurs for a prolonged period. Some jaw pains are so intensive they cause headaches. Consider seeing a doctor if you experience abnormal jaw pain. Jaw pain may be caused my many factors.

Teeth Grinding

Bruxism is the medical name for teeth grinding. It is a condition characterized by grinding, clenching, and gnashing of teeth. It occurs knowingly or unknowingly during the day and while asleep, and is often referred to as sleep Bruxism. Serious cases may require the use of mouth guards, orthodontic procedures to fix misaligned teeth, behavior therapy, and use of splints. If the pain spreads to the jaw and ear, it may be an indication of a temporomandibular illness.

 Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

These joints are found in front of the ears where the lower part of the jaw connects to the skull. They control the opening and closing of the mouth as well as any back, forth, and side to side movements. The temporomandibular joints have tissues between the joint that allow them to function effectively. TMJ disorders affect the joint that links the lower jaw to the skull in front of your ear.

Temporomandibular joint disorder occurs when the jaw muscles become strangely tense causing the joints to harden. Symptoms of this condition include cracking or clicking sound when opening or closing the mouth, lockjaw, headache, as well as pain around the ear and along the jaw. Apart from teeth grinding, other causes of this condition include anxiety, fingernail biting, stress, poor posture, teeth grinding, emotional stress, arthritis, and fatigue. Treatment is determined by the type of temporomandibular dysfunction. However, common treatment options include anti-depressants, painkillers like paracetamol, the use of a heating pads, physiotherapy exercises, and surgery in severe cases.

Salivary Cancer

This is an uncommon type of cancer that affects the salivary glands in the mouth, throat, and neck. The condition does not have a definite cause, but is often triggered by tobacco use, exposure to radiation, and genetic factors. Symptoms of salivary cancer include recurring pain around the salivary glands, facial swelling and numbness, and difficulty swallowing. Among the set of the three major pairs of salivary glands, the parotid gland is the one that is most affected by this condition. Treatment of salivary cancer includes chemotherapy, physical therapy, radiation, reconstructive therapy, and surgery.

Dry Socket

This condition mostly occurs after the removal of a permanent tooth. It is often characterized by a blood clot at an exposed tooth socket. Pain emerges though the jawbone into the ear. Pain medication, application of medicated dressings, and socket flushing are some of the treatment options for this condition.

Abscessed Tooth

An abscess is a type of infection that affects either your jawbone or tooth. The area of infection swells and causes pressure on the nerves around the jaw causing pain.

Heart Disease

Pain in the jaw can be a sign of a severe heart condition. In some people, especially women, it is one of the warning signs that they are about to suffer a heart attack.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are intense vascular headaches that affect the trigeminal nerve. The central sensory nerve allows people to feel pressure, pain, and other stimuli on their faces.

Bell’s palsy

This condition is characterized by pain around the face including the jaws caused by swelling of the nerve that enables us to make facial movements. Symptoms of Bell’s palsy include drooping eyes and facial weakness.

Treatment

Using your hands, gently massage the soft areas in your jaw. Do this for 30 seconds and repeat the process several times daily. You can open and close your mouth slowly as you carry out this process if the pain is bearable. This helps relieve pain and tension in the jaw. Although pressure is often used to treat jaw pain, deep massage is not recommended because the joint is very delicate. Do not apply extensive pressure and if applying pressure worsens symptoms, avoid it.


Jaw pain can sometimes be caused by poor posture. Consider frequently stretching your shoulder and neck to help relieve jaw pain. In addition, regular massages on the shoulders and neck can help treat jaw pain. Acupuncture, cranial sacral massage and relaxation techniques also help to relieve pain and reduce tension.

Visit an orthodontist to find out the cause of your jaw pain. Stress reduction and relaxation techniques might help with the situation, but your orthodontist will provide the best solution for you. Improper bite sometimes causes TMJ symptoms but they will disappear as soon as the bite is corrected. Ask the orthodontist about other causes of jaw pain because treating orthodontic problems can help reduce jaw pain.

If you are fond of chewing gum, strain on the jaw muscles may be the major cause of your jaw pain. Avoid chewing gum because the continuous movement of the jaw muscles makes the pain more intense. If you spend most of your time on a computer or work at a desk, make sure you get up and move around often so that you alleviate muscle strain and boost circulation of blood. Change your sitting position from time to time and retain a robust sitting position. Purchase pain relievers and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin to make chewing bearable and reduce swelling. Put on a splint or prescription bite plate in your mouth before you go to sleep. This will reduce jaw clenching, prevent you from grinding your teeth, and relieve muscle tension.

Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics has gained a reputation for providing premier orthodontics services to residents of Larkspur, CA, and surrounding counties. Schedule an appointment today.

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