Suffering from jaw pain can be very uncomfortable as it impacts your ability to chew, talk or even open or close your mouth properly. Many things can cause jaw pain. The jaw joint is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. It consists of the bone below the mouth (the mandible) and the bone just above the mouth (the maxilla). The TMJ is one of the most used joints in the body, and it allows the mouth to open and close appropriately.
The TMJ is an intricate structure comprised of bones, muscles, and tendons. An injury or any trauma to the jaw bone, such as dislocations and fractures, can lead to jaw pain. The pain can also be caused by a trauma that happened to the head or neck and is affecting the jaw, causing it not to line up as it should be. The pain may be felt on one or both sides of the jaw. The pain can get more intense when you chew or even when your jaw is at rest.
Possible Causes of Jaw Pain
There are several other reasons for jaw pain that are not associated with TMJ:
- Heart attack or coronary artery disease: Pain can exude into the jaw area. Call 911 immediately if your symptoms are accompanied by shortness of breath, chest discomfort, faintness, sweating, and nausea.
- Certain types of arthritis: This includes osteoarthritis
- Pregnancy: Due to the secretion of certain hormones, the joints get relaxed and soften.
- Infection in the bone
- Tooth pain: Acute tooth infections referred to as dental abscesses can result in pain that spreads into the jaw.
- Cluster headaches: While these typically affect the area around the eyes, the pain may also radiate into the jaw.
- Sinus problems: If your sinuses become infected, it can lead to excess mucus that puts pressure on the jaw joint and causes pain.
- Trigeminal neuralgia: A disorder of the nervous system that results in extreme facial pain, that may include the jaw area
Describing Jaw Pain Caused by TMD
TMD refers to any issue affecting the temporomandibular joint. The D stands for “disorder”. Some people, including patients and doctors, mistakenly refer to it as TMJ, but this is the acronym for the joint itself, not the condition.
TMD has various causes. Many patients report experiencing sporting accidents, whiplash, or trauma to the head or neck before the onset of TMD, making it possible that it is connected to a misalignment of the bones of the neck.
A notable study observed 89 people suffering from TMD, and it was discovered that many of them started experiencing symptoms after getting into an accident of some sort. Other reasons for TMD are listed below:
- Arthritis in the joint
- Clenching or grinding your teeth, which stresses the jaw joint
- Displacement of the disc between the ball and socket of the joint
- Stress which makes you tighten your facial and jaw muscles
Some of the Symptoms of TMD
The pain of TMD can be awful. It may either be temporary or last for many years. It can afflict one or both sides of your face. It is more often seen in women than in men, and frequently in adults between 20 and 40 years of age. Listed below are the most common symptoms and signs that you may have TMD.
- Difficulty opening your mouth wide
- Pain or swelling in your jaw joint area, spreading in the face, shoulders, and neck, and around your ear when you open or close your mouth
- A tired feeling in your face
- Stuck or locked jaws when in open or closed position
- Trouble chewing or an uncomfortable bite, almost as if the upper and lower teeth are out of alignment with each other
- Clicking, popping, or grating noise in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth
- Neck aches
- Hearing problems
- Ringing in the ears
- Shoulder pain
Home Remedies to Ease Jaw Pain
Elevation Chiropractic Center shares some jaw pain management tips you can easily do in the comfort of your home.
- Massage: Press your middle and index finger to the sore areas of your jaw, precisely the area right in front of your ear where your jaw joint attaches. Rub it in a circular motion for 5 to 10 minutes. Stop if you feel sharp pain.
- Apply heat or ice packs: Apply ice packs to the painful area of the face for 10 minutes on and then remove it for 10 minutes before reapplying to reduce inflammation. Hot water put on a washcloth can offer moist heat to relax the tense jaw muscles and lessen the pain.
An Effective, Drug-Free Relief from Jaw Pain
Here at Elevation Chiropractic Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, we specialized in maintaining the proper alignment of the bones of the neck. As we have mentioned above, if the neck bones have been out of correct alignment due to a head or neck injury, TMD may persist. A misaligned neck bone can influence how the muscles and bones move and function together.
We are a trustworthy Salt Lake City chiropractor that uses a gentle technique to adjust the bones back to their proper positions. Once adjusted, the jaw muscles can start to calm down, and the pain of TMD can decrease or go away completely.