Jaw Pain
Dr. Sanjay Arora

BDS, MDS( Endodontist),
Special interest: TMJ ( Neuro Muscular Dentistry/ Cranio-Sacral Dentistry, Occlusion,
Special interests in Cranio facial Epigenetics, Master Ceramist,
BSc (Physics)
Location: New Delhi, India

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Jaw Pain

Jaw pain is often experienced as a throbbing, uncomfortable pain in the teeth and jaws.

Pain may start either suddenly or it can start initially as mild pain and graduallybecome more intense with passing time.

Symptoms of jaw pain may vary depending on the root causes it becomes utmost important to identify the root cause of jaw pain before initiating with the treatment.

Jaw Pain

Causes Of Jaw Pain

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMJD)

Temporomandibular disorder, also known as TMD, affects the temporomandibular joint of the jaw.

It is the most common cause of jaw pain.

Jaw Pain

TMJD usually occurs as a result of -

  • Mal-alignment of teeth or jaw causing the TMJ joint disc to move out from its normal position.
  • Trauma to the jaw causing damage or dislocation of the jaw joint.
  • Inflammatory involvement of jaw joint bone causing damage to jaw joint cartilage.
  • Missing teeth or ill-fitting denture.

It’s an Infratemporal fossa catastrophe, occurring due to inward disc (medial) displacement of the Jaw Joint or TMJ.

This happens due to abnormal teeth grinding, which causes a tilt in the jaw joint leading to abnormal residual forces in the jaw joint.

Inside or on the inside of joint exists major structures travelling from and to the brain like nerves and blood vessels. This leads to compression of these structures. A cascade of events is now triggered.

The first nerve to be encountered, at a distance of just 0.5 cm or an ants length is the accessory nerve or the number 11 cranial nerve. The job of this nerve is to maintain the head on shoulders at the “COG” or the center of gravity.

Irritation of this nerve alters the muscle function and hence the head position, thereby ultimately results in putting more pressure on your jaw joints thereby causing pain.

Some of the most common TMD symptoms include:

  • Pain in the face, jaw or ear area
  • Headaches (often mimicking migraines)
  • earaches
  • pain and pressure behind the eyes
  • A clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the mouth
  • Jaw that "gets stuck," locked or goes out of place(lockjaw)
  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles
  • Swelling of the face

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth grinding is one of the leading cause of jaw pain.

Grinding of teeth may result in severe damage to your teeth.

Teeth grinding refers to clenching of teeth that is not associated with chewing.

It is the process of clenching the teeth that is not associated with chewing.

Most of the people tend to grind their teeth unknowingly while sleeping at night time(night grinding) while some may even experience teeth grinding during day time(day grinding).

If this condition is left untreated, it can have serious detrimental effects on the dental issues like attrition ,loosening (mobility) of teeth.

Several factors that can lead to teeth grinding during the day or at night, including:

  • Ear pain
  • Erupting teeth in children
  • Unpleasant emotions (stress, frustration, anger, anxiety)
  • Certain personality types (hyper-competitive, hyper-aggressive)
  • As a compulsive habit to cope with stressful situations
  • Misaligned upper and lower teeth (called a malocclusion)
  • Sleep-related complications, including sleep apnea
  • Complications caused by certain degenerative disorders, including Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease

Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis refers to inflammation of bone and surrounding tissues.

Osteomyelitis of the jaw is experienced as jaw pain, fever and facial swelling.It may even affect the TMJ(Temporomandibular joint).

Dental Conditions

These issues don't directly cause jaw pain, but rather the pain can radiate from the infected tooth into the jaw area.

Dental conditions causing jaw pain includes-

  • gum disease
  • cavities

Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth is the result of infected dental pulp ornerve. It generally occurs when a dental cavity is left untreated for an extended period of time. This causes the bacteria from the infected tooth to spread from the root of the tooth into the surrounding bone tissues, thereby causing significant jaw pain.

Medical conditions(not related to TMJ) causing jaw painmay cause perceived pain in the jaw area.

  • Coronary artery disease (angina) or heart attack- pain typically occurs in the chest but can radiate (spread) to the jaw area.
  • Some kinds of arthritis, often osteoarthritis-can affect the TMJ and lead to pain when moving the joint.
  • Less common causes of jaw pain- tumors,cysts, and infection of bone(osteomyelitis). 
  • Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition of the nervous system that causes extreme facial pain that sometimes involves the jaw area.

Symptoms & Signs Of Jaw Pain

Jaw pain may occur on one side or on both sides, depending upon the cause.

Depending upon the exact cause, the pain may occur when chewing or may occur at rest.

Jaw pain may be experienced by the patient as-

  • Difficulty chewing,
  • Tenderness and aching of other areas of the face or neck.

Treatment Of Jaw Pain

TMJD Treatment

It is the most common cause for jaw pain.

TMJD treatment requires correction of TMJ residual pressures through the Dental Occlusion correction. TMJD correction is more of a Bio-Engineering problem rather than a Biological problem If the culprit behind your back pain is suspected to be due to TMJD (Temporomandibular joint disorder), then it becomes utmost important to confirm it with the aid of various sophisticated and most advanced diagnostic technology (AVAILABLE ONLY AT Zental Tmj & Body Pain Division BODY PAIN TREATMENT CENTRE, only SUPERSPECIALIZED DENTAL clinic in INDIA and PERHAPS IN ASIA TOO), like-

Once the diagnosis is confirmed and connection between TMJD and back pain has been established, various treatment procedures can be done to eliminate back aches from the roots. It includes-

  • Home care remedies
  • Medicines-pain relievers, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants.
  • Orthotic/splint
  • Orthodontic treatment
  • Veneers, Crown and bridges
  • Botox

Treating Jaw Pain Caused By Grinding Teeth

Treat your teeth

Use A Mouth Guard- it keeps your upper and lower teeth separated and reduce the pain and damage caused by grinding.

Correcting Position Of Mal- Aligned Tooth/Teeth-braces to realign your upper and lower rows of teeth, or having oral surgery to reshape the contours of your teeth.

Treat the underlying cause of bruxism

Bruxism due to extreme emotions or behavioral complications-

  • Stress-management exercises like yoga, meditation or rigorous exercise.
  • Therapy to address issues like anxiety, anger, or stress.
  • In extreme cases, medication may be recommended like muscle relaxants.

Make lifestyle changes

  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Try drinking decaffeinated coffee or tea, or for best results, drink a relaxing herbal tea in the evening.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol especially during the evening to promote a more restful night's sleep with lower incidences of bruxism.

Treating Jaw Pain Caused By a Tooth Abscess

Treating The Abcess

  • Antibiotics- may be prescribed to prevent the infection from spreading to other teeth or to your jaw.
  • Surgical Drainage of abscess
  • Root canal Treatment-Might be the best option. This allows your dentist to treat the infection while still saving your tooth.
  • Extraction of infected non-restorable tooth

Pain Management

Warm Saline Rinses- Mix one teaspoon of salt into an eight-ounce glass of warm water. Repeat this rinse after every meal and before bed to help reduce inflammation and prevent infection.

Pain Relievers- Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be taken to reduce inflammation and manage pain.

Cold Compression- Apply a cold compress wrapped in cloth to the affected side of your face for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, to manage the pain and inflammation in the jaw and mouth. Do not use a hot compress with an abscessed tooth, as heat may allow the infection to spread.

Treating Jaw Pain Caused By Tmj Arthritis

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems may be caused by –

  • Traumatic arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Treat Traumatic Tmj Arthritis- treatments that can be administered to reduce jaw pain associated with arthritis.

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the symptoms of traumatic TMJ arthritis.
  • Soft food diet to avoid unnecessary jaw movement.
  • Warm compression-Apply the compress for 20 minutes, then remove the compress and exercising the jaw by moving it open and shut, then side to side. Try repeating this treatment three to five times daily.
  • Wearing a bite guard- may give some relief from pain or discomfort.

Treat Osteoarthritic Tmj Pain

  • Mouth guard or bite plate- can be worn during the day or overnight to help reduce pain and grating.
  • Warm compression- Apply a warm compress for 20 minutes followed by exercising the jaw. Move the jaw open and closed, then move the lower jaw from side to side.
  • Soft diet- Stick to soft foods. Avoid anything hard or crunchy.
  • Over-the-counter pain reliever, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce pain and inflammation.

Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis Tmj Pain-

  • Pain Reliever- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Jaw Exercises- to maintain range of motion when pain is at a minimum.
  • Cold Compression- A cold compress may be applied to reduce pain and inflammation. Apply the cold compress to the affected side of the jaw for 20 minutes on, followed by 20 minutes off.
  • Surgery- In severe cases, surgery is indicated to prevent rheumatoid arthritis from limiting jaw function. Surgery is usually considered a last option when all other alternatives have been exhausted, due to the risk of complications associated with surgery.
  • Muscle Relaxants- may be prescribed for short periods of time (a few days to several weeks in length) to help manage pain and make movement easier.
  • Sedatives- If TMJ pain is keeping you awake, sedatives may be recommended to help you sleep at night
  • Corticosteroid- Cortisone injections may also be recommended totreat pain and inflammation.
Consult Best Body Pain Treatment Centre In Delhi, India.