Jaw pain can be a devitalizing condition. It is an aching pain felt in the jaw, ears, or face when you speak, chew, or try to open your mouth. Jaw pain can be caused by many things, including teeth, sinus, ears, and the jaw itself.
This means it can be difficult to determine if the pain is a result of a jaw issue or something else. Usually, jaw pain is a result of an injury or an abnormality in your jaw joints, but there are other potential causes.
Read on for the most common causes of jaw pain.
1. Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
TMJ disorders are the most common causes of jaw pain. About 12 in 100 people may have a temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder, and it is more common among women. TMJs are a pair of bones that connect your jawbone with the skull. They are placed in front of your ears, and they allow you to open and close your mouth. Causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Jaw bone injury
- Pain from the muscles around the jaw – Usually caused by grinding your teeth at night, involuntary clenching of the jaw due to anxiety or stress, and jaw joint trauma
- Over-stimulation of the jaw joint
- Illnesses or conditions such as arthritis.
Signs of TMJ disorders are:
- Clicking sound when you are speaking, eating, or trying to open your mouth.
- Having trouble with your vision
- Pain when chewing
- Ringing in the ears
- Constant headaches
- Locking of your jaw
If you have a problem with your TMJ, you should have it checked out. It can affect your ability to speak, chew, or get a good night’s sleep. Here are some interesting TMJ & sleep facts.
2. Sinus problems
The sinuses are the air-filled cavities located near the joint of your jaw. If sinuses are infected with a germ, like a bacterium or a virus, they result in excess mucus that puts pressure on the joints of your jaw, resulting in jaw pain.
3. Dental problems
A number of issues with your teeth can result in jaw pain: They include:
- Crowded, cracked or teeth that are sensitive to cold or heat
- Toothache – Normally due to an abscess or cavity
- Gum disease
- Wisdom teeth emerging
- Misaligned teeth
You should see your dentist right away if you have any of the above problems. Until then, ensure your dental hygiene is superb.
4. Heart attack
It might surprise you, but an impending heart attack can cause jaw pain. Pain that originates near a cluster of nerves, such as your heart, can be experienced elsewhere in the body. This is known as referred pain, and jaw pain might be the only sign of an imminent heart for some people. Call 911 immediately if you experience jaw pain accompanied by any of the following signs:
- Feeling faint
- Chest pain, especially on the left side
- Shortness of breath
You should treat jaw pain as an emergency if it is sudden and severe, and when it is accompanied by nausea, shortness of breath, chest pain, and sweating.
Otherwise, you can relieve the pain by applying moist heat or ice packs to your face, massage the aching joint, or use over-the-counter pain relievers.