Why Does my Jaw Hurt?

Man with jaw pain

When you are experiencing pain in your jaw most people attribute it to TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorder. While this disorder is a cause for a lot of jaw problems, it is not always the cause of jaw pain. In fact, jaw pain can be a symptom of many serious health issues and should be examined by a professional if it lasts for more than 24 hours or is very severe. In any case, you should never ignore it. Your jaw or tooth pain could be telling you something, and you want to seek treatment before it becomes a more significant issue.

Teeth Grinding – Bad Bite and Overuse

Grinding your teeth when you sleep can put excessive amounts of pressure on your jaws. Since this most often occurs while you are sleeping, other muscles surrounding the jaw can also be affected by the grinding. The best thing that you can do if you grind your teeth is speak with your dentist about the right type of device to help you stop grinding your teeth.

The way that your teeth interact with each other may also cause pain in your jaw if not aligned properly. Commonly referred to as your bite pattern, non-alignment can cause teeth to wear unevenly and pains in the jaw area. In most cases, misaligned bite patterns can be corrected with braces or similar devices that can reshape the bite area to make it close in a more comfortable manner.

Many people may joke about overusing their jaw, but it can actually be quite a serious medical issue. People who chew gum for extended periods of time can actually cause damage to their jaws which results in constant pain. This may be from the chewing motion itself for just the length of time that the jaw is working. Giving your jaw a rest is usually the solution to this problem.

Most common health issues that are related to jaw pain include:
• Infections
• Teeth Grinding
• Bad Bite
• Over Use
• Osteoarthritis
• Heart Condition
Of course, there are other conditions that may result in jaw pain, including physical injuries.

Different Infections May Cause Your Jaw To Hurt

Sinus infections can cause pain in your jaw area from the pressure in your sinus cavity. The cause of the pain may be from the swelling of the sinus area, from the pressure of the sinuses being blocked, or from the infection itself spreading to other areas. Sinus infections also can lead to ear infections if left untreated.

Ear infections are another cause of jaw pain. Because of the location of your ears, any type of infection or swelling due to infection can quickly cause pain in your jaw. The tubes behind your jaw can become quite sore when infected, and this may also be felt in your jaw area, even if it is not actually a jaw pain.

An infected or abscessed tooth is a leading cause of jaw pain. If you have any type of tooth or gum infection, the infection and pain can quickly travel into the jaw area. This is especially true for abscessed teeth, regardless of where they are located in the jaw.

Anyone that is experiencing jaw pain that is connected to an infection should seek immediate medical care. Infections left untreated can lead to more dangerous health risks.

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Your Jaw Is A Joint And Can Suffer Joint Diseases

When you think of osteoarthritis, you generally think of people suffering with pains in their knees or hips, and sometimes their elbows and shoulders. However, osteoarthritis can set into any joint in the body, including your jaw. Your medical care provider would have to check for other indicators to determine if the pain you are experiencing in your jaw is due to arthritis.

A Dull Pain In Your Left Lower Jaw Should Never Be Ignored

While this is not always the case, a dull constant pain in the lower left side of your jaw may indicate that you are experiencing heart trouble. Much like the chest pains on the left side and in the left arm, heart pains often show in the lower left jaw, especially in women. If you are experiencing any type of pain in your lower left jaw, especially if you have any other symptoms of heart problems such as shortness of breath or pains in your chest or left arm, or both, seek immediate medical care.

Other Reasons You May Experience Jaw Pain

There are other reasons that you may be experiencing jaw pain. Stress often triggers pains in the law area because people are straining their facial muscles when they are feeling stressed. Some people have also reported jaw pain in association to allergic reactions. There have even been reports of jaw pain being associated with colds and flu symptoms.

What is most important to understand is that most jaw pain is a symptom of another underlying medical condition and should be taken seriously. It may the sign of an infection or injury, and autoimmune disorder or heart condition. Jaw pain is not always related to TMD issues concerning bite patterns and grinding teeth.

If you are experiencing jaw pain, consult with your dentist immediately to determine what is causing the pain. Your dentist will be able to provide you with the right treatment plan and information to help you manage or relieve your pain, or recommend you to a physician for further treatment.

About the Author

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Dr. Joan Landron

Currently serving the community at Absolute Dental since August 2008, Dr. Joan Landron graduated from Temple University School of Dentistry in 1997.

She further honed her skills with a general practice residency at Metropolitan Hospital and underwent specialized training at New York University’s Implant Program for General Practitioners. Specializing in services such as X-rays, examinations, cleanings, crowns, and more, Dr. Landron brings a comprehensive approach to general and cosmetic dentistry, including implants.

A proud member of the American Dental Association, Nevada Dental Association, and Southern Nevada Dental Association, she cherishes her free time by spending moments with family, reading, and maintaining her health through exercise. Dr. Landron takes immense pride in being a part of the Absolute Dental team and is dedicated to her patients at the Absolute Dental – Nellis in Las Vegas, ensuring they receive the best care possible.

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