Causes And Treatments Of Jaw Pain

jaw pain

What Is Jaw Pain?


Jaw pain is a common malady that affects many people in our country. The causes can be as benign as biting a hard nut or as insidious as an impending heart attack. Thus it is essential to get a proper diagnosis and treatment at the onset of the discomfort. Pain in our body is nature’s alarm system, it is a harbinger that something in our body is out of balance and needs to be attended to. Our dedicated, highly trained staff at 172 NYC Dental is available seven days a week to treat your jaw pain, whether it has been chronic or acute. 



What Are The Causes Of Jaw Pain?


Jaw pain can be localized to a particular, focused, point in the mouth. It can also present as a radiating pain affecting the muscles of mastication (chewing), in the neck and the back. Not all jaw pain is due to an underlying disease. In some cases, something acute happens that elicits a response of pain such as:


  • Gum chewing
  • Eating tough foods
  • Trauma to the jaw
  • Grinding teeth (bruxism)
  • Opening the mouth too wide (yawn, dental procedures)


Other times jaw pain is caused by pathology affecting the structures of the mouth. We, your dentists, are your first line of defense. Other causes of jaw pain include:




1. Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD)


Patients can experience pain and compromised movement of this joint and the surrounding muscles. This joint is found right in front of our ears, about midway down and acts like a sliding hinge that connects our jaw bone to our skull. 


The top part of our lower jaw ends in a round boney eminence known as the condyle. The condyle fits into a space in our skull called the glenoid fossa and has a cushion (articular disc) between the condyle and the bone of the skull. 


Any disturbance of their relationship will result in pain, usually manifesting on one side, but can affect both sides. Patients complain of pain on opening and closing. Sometimes the pain extends to muscles in the back and neck. Usually, we see an association with bruxism (grinding teeth at night). 


This is the most common cause of jaw pain but can be treated expertly by our dentists at 172 NYC Dental.



2. Toothache-patients 


The pain can be transitory and will pass. We see this when a patient bites on something hard, floss improperly causing gum irritation, something gets stuck between the teeth and with orthodontic treatment (braces). 


More serious toothaches arise from cavities, grinding, fractures (due to trauma) and periodontal disease. It’s important to seek dental care if the pain does not subside within 1-2 days.



3. Dental Abscess


This is a more serious cause of pain. When an abscess occurs an infection is present. The abscess is a pocket of pus (white blood cells and bacteria) that forms in the gum and or bone surrounding a tooth. 


Symptoms are throbbing pain and many times radiating to the back of the jaw and ears. The tooth is extremely sensitive to pressure, hot and cold and the patient may exhibit redness on the cheek, swelling, and fever. Typically bad breath is also present. 


There are two types of abscesses: 

  • The periapical is caused by the death of the pulp (nerve) of the tooth. This condition requires Root Canal Therapy or an extraction, by either an endodontist or surgeon. 
  • The other type is called periodontal abscess. This requires intervention by a board-certified periodontist with a course of antibiotics.



4. Tooth impaction


This occurs when a tooth does not erupt into its proper position in the jaw. The tooth can be totally or partially covered with gum tissue and or bone and food and bacteria get trapped in the area leading to an infection. 


We typically see this in the third molar (wisdom tooth) area. Symptoms include jaw pain, bleeding, gingivitis, swelling, bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.



5. Dislocated jaw


A broken or dislocated jaw is an injury to one or both joints that connect the lower jaw bone to the skull. These are the TemporoMandibular joints. Dentists can gently reposition your jaw back into its proper position by relaxing your muscles and guiding your jaw down and back. 

If fractured your jaw will need to be immobilized, but the outcomes of these treatments have a very high degree of success. 



6. Arthritis-osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis


Most commonly, this autoimmune disease affects the Temporomandibular Joint. Restrictive movement, pain in opening and closing your mouth. Radiographs may show a loss of the articular disc between the condyle on the glenoid fossa.



7. Heart Attack


Pain in the jaw, usually the lower left side, often accompanies the beginning signs of a heart attack. The pain is usually sudden and is described as a stabbing pain, a feeling of tightness, pressure, or squeezing. It may feel like a bad toothache. 


The jaw pain may be accompanied by pain in the chest and arms, shortness of breath, sweating and weakness. If you feel these symptoms and are in an acute situation, take a baby aspirin and call 911 immediately.




What Are The Treatments for Jaw Pain?


  1. See a dentist as soon as possible.
  2. Rinse your mouth with water and a teaspoonful of salt.
  3. Rinse your mouth with a diluted mix of hydrogen peroxide and water (ratio 1:3).
  4. Cold compress.
  5. Oil of cloves.
  6. Analgesic medications (tylenol, ibuprofen, naproxen).
  7. Keep head elevated while sleeping.
  8. Soft food diet.


Treat Your Jaw Pain At 172 NYC Dental Today


Dental jaw pain is a diverse, mixed bag and usually takes a dental professional to discern what the problem is and how to treat it successfully. Jaw pain can be transitory or the signal of a more serious illness. 


We at 172 NYC Dental stand ready to treat and alleviate your discomfort seven days a week. Please do not hesitate to contact us. Call us at 646-921-5541 to make an appointment today. 

About Dr. Benjamin Ahn

Meet Dr. Benjamin Ahn, a top-rated general, and cosmetic dentist and one of the best Invisalign dentist practicing at 209 NYC Dental, a multi-specialty dental practice in Midtown East Manhattan.

Questions? Contact us online or give us a call at 646-921-5541 today!
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