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5 Causes of Jaw Pain

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Causes of Jaw Pain

Many of us have experienced jaw pain before. It can range from a mild annoyance, to debilitating pain, and has many causes. If you are experiencing jaw pain, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause of the pain. This way, your dentist can advise a treatment, and you can soon find relief! Here are some of the most common causes of jaw pain, and their treatments:

  1. Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorder (TMD)

    TMD is the most common cause of jaw pain. It affects the hinge joints on either side of your jaw. There are many causes of TMD/TMJ, including injury to the jaw, arthritis, a displaced disc, or excessive stimulation of the jaw joint. Teeth grinding, clenching, or sport-related injuries are usually the root cause of these issues. Night mouth guards, and sports mouthguards are a good way to protect against joint injury in the jaw.

  2. Teeth Grinding or clenching

    Teeth grinding is quite common and can either lead to TMD, as mentioned above, or can cause jaw pain on its own. The trouble with teeth grinding is that it often happens at night while we are asleep, so sometimes you don’t even know that you’re doing it! If you suspect you’re grinding your teeth at night, you should speak to your dentist. They can fit you with a mouth guard to be worn at night to protect your teeth and jaw from the harmful effects of grinding or clenching.

  3. Sinus Problems

    Due to the proximity of the sinuses to the jaw joint, sinus pain can often travel to the jaw. Often sinus infections cause pain that radiates through the sinuses, and through the jaw. Sinus infections can be very painful and if you think you have one, you should see your doctor immediately for antibiotics.

  4. Headaches

    Those who suffer from migraine or cluster headaches know how painful and detrimental they can be. Often headache pain occurs behind the eyes, and throughout the head, but it can spread to the facial muscles and the jaw. Treatment for headaches varies depending on the type of headache and the severity, but if you are experiencing frequent headaches that spread to the jaw you should let your doctor and dentist know. Teeth grinding or clenching can also cause headaches.

  5. Dental Infection

    An infection or abscess in the teeth can cause pain that spreads to the jaw. Tooth infection can be very serious, and even life threatening and should be treated immediately by a dentist.

If you are experiencing jaw pain, you should definitely consult with your dentist about possible causes and treatments such as medication or night mouth guards. In the meantime, you can ease jaw pain by applying either hot or cold compresses, massaging the jaw, and taking painkillers such as Advil or Tylenol.


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Dr. Tali Waksman
A graduate from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Tali Waksman went on to work as the only dentist on a Native reserve, serving 2000 people after completing a residency at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. With a warm and friendly personality and close attention to detail, she treats every patient like family.