Jaw Pain

Telling your family dentist whether you have jaw pain right side or jaw pain left side — or an overall pain in your jaw — helps him to come to a quicker diagnosis. Since there are so many causes for jaw pain, pinning down the location makes it easier to figure out. Once discovered, plans can be put in place to fix the cause and prevent further pain so that you don’t have to continue suffering.

Jaw pain makes it difficult to eat, smile or focus on anything other than how uncomfortable you are. There are several possible causes of pain in jaw or facial muscles, and this pain can come over you all of a sudden or it can start off as a dull ache that grows in intensity.

If you’re experiencing jaw pain, your family dentist at Albany County Dental Associates first performs a thorough examination to diagnose the cause of your pain in jaw, face, teeth or gums. Track your history with the discomfort to better help your dentist come to the most accurate diagnosis.

Pain in Jaw Symptoms

Depending on the cause, you may experience jaw pain left side, jaw pain right side or pain on both sides of your jaw. Along with the discomfort in your jaw, you may experience facial tenderness, swelling or difficulty eating, chewing or talking.

Other symptoms include:

  • Extreme temperature sensitivity and tooth pain
  • Grinding your teeth so much while you sleep that you wake yourself or your partner up
  • Cheek damage from excessive tooth grinding
  • Locked jaw
  • Fractured, loose, flat or broken teeth
  • Worn-down tooth enamel

Teeth Clenching or Grinding

According to the Mayo Clinic, a condition called bruxism may be the primary cause of your symptoms. Bruxism can affect you either when you’re awake or sleeping. You may grind your teeth and not even be aware you’re doing it. The more frequently you clench or grind your teeth, the more likely you’ll have other symptoms, such as headaches, jaw discomfort and even earaches.

Wearing a mouthguard at night is one solution. Your Albany-area dentist can fit you with a mouthguard to prevent grinding while you sleep. If you unconsciously clench your teeth during the day, relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing may make a difference.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)

A joint on each side of your jaw connects your jawbone to your skull. This joint is called the temporomandibular joint, and disorders involving this joint cause headaches, discomfort, difficulty chewing, aching pain in or around your ear, jaw pain left side and jaw pain right side. Additionally, TMJ disorders can cause a clicking sound when opening your mouth.

Finding the cause of your TMJ disorders isn’t always easy. Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Arthritis
  • Injury
  • Dislocation
  • Connective tissue disorders

Diagnosing and Treating TMJ Disorders

To determine whether you have a TMJ disorder, your family dentist in Albany County checks the joints and muscles of your jaw for tenderness, difficulty moving or clicking and popping sounds. You may need dental x-rays.

If you have TMJ disorders, you may be able to reduce the intensity of your jaw pain by eating softer foods, practicing relaxation techniques or using a heating pad. Your dentist may prescribe medications such as muscle relaxants, pain medication or anti-inflammatory medication.

Trauma and Jaw Injury

Just like any other bone or joint in your body, your jaw can be broken or dislocated if you experience a trauma. Any kind of blow to your jaw can lead to swelling, pain or bruising. An accident may loosen or knock out a tooth, too.

Some sports can easily lead to mouth or jaw injuries. Your Albany Dental professional can provide detailed information about mouthguards that can help prevent injury to your jaw. And since your dentist also cares for your children’s teeth, kids who play sports are cautioned about using mouthguards, which can be custom-made to fit them.

Pain in Jaw Caused by Dental Conditions or Infection

Pain in jaw or neck muscles can also be caused by dental conditions such as cavities or gum disease. Both can cause infection, nerve pain and throbbing pain. While these conditions don’t directly affect your jaw, the discomfort can spread to your jaw when they aren’t treated in a timely manner.

When a tooth decays and isn’t filled, decay can gradually progress to the inner portion of the tooth, leading to the need for a root canal. Bacteria from the infection invades the nerve of the tooth and even affects the bone surrounding your mouth. This can trigger not only a toothache, but jaw pain as well.

Practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings help prevent tooth infection or gum disease. But even if you do everything right, pain in jaw muscles can still strike. Don’t ignore it; contact your family dentist to schedule an appointment.