What are the Different Causes of Jaw Pain?

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Jaw pain is one of the more complex types of pain to ignore. Because it is centered on the face, it can make participating in focused or social activity tough. While you may think it’s just a cramp, severe or ongoing jaw pain can be a sign of serious dental or muscular problems. This article will explore the common causes of jaw pain and what to do if yours doesn’t subside. 

Different Causes of Jaw Pain

If your jaw pain doesn’t subside after a few hours of its onset, you may want to explore some of these causes to determine whether or not to see a physician: 

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMD)

This is one of the most common causes of jaw pain caused by injury, overuse, or inflammation of the “hinge” joints on each side of your jaw. Like arthritis, it can cause pain, clicking sounds in the joint, or other symptoms that inhibit your ability to move your jaw comfortably. 

Tooth decay

If a cavity, abscess, infection, or gum disease progress without treatment, it may cause pain that radiates down the jaw. This pain will likely progress slowly but can become constant and unbearable if not treated soon. Be sure to visit your dentist frequently and make an appointment immediately if the pain in the tooth begins to cause problems with the jaw. 

Myofascial pain syndrome

This is a lesser common cause of jaw pain but can signify a more severe problem. Myofascial pain syndrome is caused by pressure on sensitive or “trigger” spots in the muscles, often overworking them. It can cause pain in the power itself or unrelated parts of the body (referred pain). 

Trigeminal neuralgia

This condition is caused by compression of the trigeminal nerve responsible for feeling in a large portion of the face. It is not limited to the jaw but can often cause pain in the upper and lower jaw. Luckily, trigeminal neuralgia is not typical, but it may be a cause of your unexplained jaw pain. 

Heart attack

While this is rare, in some circumstances, heart attacks can cause pain in other areas of the body, including the jaw. Referred pain in the left side of the jaw is more common among women but can happen to anyone. If you have any of the following symptoms coupled with jaw pain on one side, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention: shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, sweating, chest pain, or feeling lightheaded. 

When To Seek Help

Jaw pain can be caused by a toothache or overworking the muscles, typically not severe. However, if your jaw pain is unexplained, painful, or persists for more than a few days, you should seek help to determine a diagnosis and possible treatment options. The longer you wait to treat jaw pain, the worse your symptoms may become. Before it becomes an unbearable daily pain, talk to your local PPOA for help with jaw pain.