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What You Need To Know About Jaw Pain

Jaw pain can range from an irritating niggle to debilitating pain. There are several possible causes of jaw pain and various ways you can treat it.

What are TMJ's?

Out of all the joints in your body (and there are 360 of them!), the jaw is undoubtedly one of the most overused, so it is no surprise that it is prone to damage.

Two joints connect your lower and upper jaw and skull. These are known as the Temporomandibular Joints or TMJ's. These joints help your jaw perform all the things you would expect them to; eat, yawn and speak. So, they are pretty important!


If your TMJ's are damaged either through overuse, injury or a health condition, you may experience several symptoms, including;

*Pain in your jaw

*Your jaw clicking when you eat

*Reduced movement in your jaw (not being able to open your mouth wide)

*Pain in your neck or lower back

*Pain near your ear

These symptoms are often described as TMJ Disorders (TMD's or TMJD's). If you have a TMD, you may experience several symptoms or may only have one. Either way, if you suspect you have a TMD, you need to seek treatment to ensure that it doesn't get any worse.


TMD jaw pain can be caused by several factors, from overuse (playing a musical instrument or chewing gum constantly) to injury or health conditions such as arthritis or a displaced disc.

Damage to the jaw joint can occur from sustaining an injury to the face while playing sports, grinding your teeth at night or clenching your jaw due to stress. Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth can often happen involuntarily without being completely aware that you are even doing it. A change in your bite after having a filling, crown or dentures fitted is another common cause of TMD.

Other less common causes of jaw pain include tooth pain (usually from abscesses), sinus problems, cluster headaches (pain behind the eyes, radiating to the jaw), and even a heart attack. Women especially may experience jaw pain on the left-hand side at the onset of a heart attack.

You are more likely to suffer from a TMD if you already have a condition that affects your joints, such as osteoporosis or arthritis.


For immediate relief from jaw pain, you should rest the joint (easier said than done!) and apply ice or a cold compress. Try to avoid eating chewy or hard foods that make your jaw work harder than usual, and take over the counter pain meds if you feel you need to. Gently massaging your jaw just below your ear, where the joints meet, may also help.

It is essential to consult a dentist or other health professional when you experience jaw pain. This is where your friendly dentist in Hornsby can help. Here at Gentle Care Dentistry, we can assess your problem and suggest a treatment plan to get you on the road to being pain-free.

Your dentist may suggest a long-term rehabilitation plan which could include performing jaw exercises. If your TMD is due to grinding your teeth, then your dentist is likely to recommend wearing a mouthguard at night. These can be custom made to fit your mouth. Orthodontics may be an option to help align your jaws or correct your bite.

If you are looking for a dentist near Hornsby Hospital to help with your jaw pain, look no further than Gentle Care Dentistry.


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