What's Causing Your Facial and Jaw Pain?

Whether you're experiencing a dull ache, lingering soreness or a stabbing sensation, pain in your jaw and face can be frustrating and, in some cases, even debilitating. Your facial or jaw pain could be caused by one of numerous sources, but here are some of the common culprits.

Teeth Grinding

While you may think it would be obvious if you were grinding your teeth, the fact is that many people actually grind their teeth while they're sleeping and don't even know they're doing it. This condition, which can affect people of all ages, has a number of potential causes, including stressful situations, crooked teeth, an abnormal bite or missing teeth. In addition to causing headaches and jaw pain, teeth grinding can also lead to tooth fractures, tooth sensitivity and loose teeth. If you do grind your teeth, your dentist may recommend a mouthguard and general stress relief techniques to do at home.

A TMJ Disorder

TMJ refers to your temporomandibular joints, which are the joints that allow your mouth to open and close. When you have a TMJ disorder, also referred to as TMD, it means that something has caused the joints to function improperly, creating symptoms like jaw and facial pain, trouble moving your jaw and clicking or popping sounds when you open your mouth. There are several approaches your dentist may take to relieve pain from TMJ, including simple changes in eating habits, exercises, medication or orthodontic treatments.

Other Potential Causes

In addition to a TMJ disorder or teeth grinding, the ADA notes that pain around your jaw or face might also be attributed to one of the following causes:

  • arthritis
  • sinus problems
  • jaw injury
  • infection
  • periodontal disease
  • toothache

To determine the exact source of your pain, schedule an appointment with a dental professional who can give you a thorough examination.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Top Ways To Alleviate TMD SYMPTOMS

While there is no single cure for TMD, there are different treatments that may reduce your symptoms dramatically. Your dentist may recommend one or more of the following:

  • Medication – trying to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking medication, such as muscle relaxants, aspirin, other over-the-counter pain-relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • Wear a night guard – reduce the harmful effects of tooth clenching and grinding by wearing a night guard or splint.

  • Relax – learning relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw. Your dentist may suggest you seek training or counseling to help eliminate stress.