What is Jaw Pain & Why does it happen?
Pain in any body part is an indication of something not right in the body. Jaw pain is a sharp or consistent pain that may cause problems in the ability to eat or speak. Jaw pain is often considered a normal medical concern that may result from toothache, sinusitis, jaw issue or can be a result of a serious heart problem. It sometimes spreads to other areas of the face.
Jaw pain can also result from reasons that are not due to a serious underlying disease for eg. aggressive chewing, jaw trauma or opening the mouth too wide for eg. yawning or a dental procedure.
Symptoms of Jaw Pain
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw that may radiate to the face.
- Pain in temporomandibular joints.
- An aching pain in and around your ear.
- Facing difficulty or pain while chewing.
- Tenderness in the joints and muscles.
- Limited range of motion.
- Issues in jaw alignment.
- Feeling a burning sensation in the mouth.
- locking of the jaw, which makes opening and closing of the mouth difficult.
- Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when you open your mouth or chew.
- Tooth sensitivity.
Causes of Jaw Pain
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Broken or dislocated jaw.
- Ear or dental infections.
- Teeth injuries.
- Tooth grinding and clenching.
- Periodontal disease.
- Problems with your jaw or the temporomandibular joint.
Some rare causes of jaw pain include
- Disorders of the salivary gland.
- Stress, fatigue, and anxiety.
- Formation of tumors in or around the jawbones.
- Heart attack.
- Autoimmune conditions, such as lupus.
- Obstructive sleep apnea.
- Ear infections.
- Some mental health conditions.
How is Jaw Pain diagnosed?
A doctor will inquire about the symptoms and conduct a physical examination of facial reflexes . In certain cases, they may also recommend certain tests such as a blood test, an imaging study, x rays or a combination of these two.
If a doctor doubts about the cause of jaw pain they may recommend tests pertaining to that certain disease. In some rare cases, the doctor might also ask for a psychological or psychiatric screening.
Treatment Methods for Jaw Pain
Treating the root cause of jaw pain may include therapies like medication, self-care, or surgical procedures.
Medications and Self-Care-
Specific medications are prescribed for certain jaw pains. If the pain is caused by an infection, antibiotics will be prescribed, while in the case of teeth grinding, a mouthguard may come to the rescue.
If the jaw pain is due to a tooth problem, then surgical treatments such as root canal treatment, periodontal treatment, or tooth extraction may be done.
Home Remedies for Jaw Pain
- Warm Compress-Placing a heating pad/warm compress outside the jaw joint helps to provide relaxation to the surrounding muscles by releasing the tension between muscles & improves blood circulation. If this is the major cause of jaw pain, using a heating pad to warm up the area for 15-20 minutes at a time provides relief.
- Cold Compress-Ice is a great measure that helps to numb pain and reduce inflammation. Therefore, cold compressing for 15 to 20 minutes would help relieve swelling and pain.
- Nutritional supplements-Foods rich in magnesium helps to reduce muscle tension. Therefore, including almonds, spinach, pumpkin seeds, black beans, dark chocolate, and bananas might be of help in relieving jaw pain.
- Omega-3 fatty acid rich food-Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce inflammation of the jaw. Food items such as salmon, walnuts, cod liver oil, flax seeds, chia seeds, and soybeans are high in omega-3 fatty acids and prove to be beneficial in jaw pain.
- Turmeric-Turmeric helps to decrease inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Including turmeric in diet is very beneficial for relief in jaw pain.
- Face massage-Face massage can be of great help in relieving jaw pain as it helps to relax the muscles around the temporomandibular joint. If the cause of pain is temporomandibular joint then massaging is extremely helpful. For this, massage the jaw and temples with light hands and in a circular motion for about 30 seconds. Then. The face massage can be performed every 4 hours to minimize jaw pain.
- Facial exercises may help-Certain facial exercises such as stretching the jaw, opening and closing the mouth with multiple repetitions may help by strengthening the muscles of the jaws, and relaxing the jaw for an increased mobility.
- Mind calming techniques-Managing stress is one of the key solutions to relieving jaw pain as a tensed mind also leads to pain. Trying certain mind calming techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and exercise can be of great help. These activities help to lower the resting heart rate, maintain ideal blood pressure, and can calm the nervous system.
- Soft food diet-In case of intense or recurring jaw pain, consuming a soft food diet for five to seven days would help. This diet can include soup, pasta, pudding, yogurt, and soft breads.
Prevention methods for Jaw Pain
The following are some of the methods that can be included in one’s daily routine to avoid jaw pain
- Avoid eating crunchy or foods that are hard to chew.
- Take small bites to avoid continuous chewing.
There are some long-term strategies as well for preventing jaw pain. These include:
- Practice good oral hygiene.
- Regular checkups by a dentist.
- Correct sitting posture and do not bear weight for too long on one shoulder.
When to see a doctor?
Jaw pain usually subsides on its own or with some home remedies within a few days without medical treatment. However, if the pain doesn’t go away or worsens, it is always a safe option to consult a doctor in order to rule out the possibility of serious health problems.
Immediate medical attention should be given if there is severe or prolonged discomfort accompanied by symptoms such as troubled breathing, chest pain, sweating, or dizziness.