Jaw pain can be incredibly uncomfortable and make it difficult to focus at work or school. Our Clarks Summit, PA, dentists, Dr. Jeffrey Bell, Dr. Dale Collins and Dr. Amy Cravath, discuss a few possible causes for your pain.
A bad bite
Bite problems are one potential cause of an aching jaw. If you have a bad bite, your teeth don't meet together properly when you close your mouth. The problem can stress your jaw, causing your painful symptoms.
Your sleeping position
Do you automatically curl yourself into the fetal position when you sleep on your side? If you do, you probably place your fists under your jaw. Sleeping in this position for several hours puts pressure on your jaw, resulting in pain when you wake.
Grinding and clenching
Grinding or clenching your teeth stresses your jaw and may also damage your teeth or dental restorations.
A dental abscess or osteomyelitis
Bacterial infections can cause abscesses or osteomyelitis, an infection of your jawbone. If you have jaw pain, a fever or facial swelling, call our Clarks Summit office immediately. Both infections are dental emergencies and require prompt treatment.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)
TMD affects the bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles in nerves in the hinged jaw joints on either side of your face. Symptoms of TMD may include pain and clicking sounds when opening and closing your mouth, jaw locking, a change in your bite, headaches, dizziness, ear pain and pain that radiates to your face, shoulder and neck. Although an injury or arthritis can cause the condition, it's often impossible to determine a specific cause for TMD symptoms.
How is jaw pain treated?
Ice and over-the-counter pain medication can relieve pain caused by your sleeping position. A custom-made nightguard is a good option if you grind or clench your teeth at night, while orthodontic treatment offers an effective way to correct bite problems. You'll need antibiotics if you have a dental abscess and may also require a root canal. Antibiotics are also needed to treat osteomyelitis. If bone death has occurred, surgery to remove the dead portion of the bone may also be required.
Ice packs, stretching exercises and stress relief techniques can be helpful in relieving TMD pain. If those conservative methods aren't effective, you may benefit by wearing an oral appliance that reduces stress on your hinge joints.
Are you concerned about jaw pain? Call our Clarks Summit, PA, dentists, Dr. Bell, Dr. Collins and Dr. Cravath, at (570) 586-1411 to schedule an appointment.