Jaw pain can be the result of a number of issues, and it’s never fun. Some causes include dental abscesses, fractures, misalignment of teeth, arthritis, and particularly Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). TMD is the most commonly associated with jaw pain, and it often comes with additional problems such as headaches and dizziness. Stress is typically the cause of TMD, which occurs due to a grinding of the teeth usually during sleep hours and can be triggered by misaligned bite or sleep apnea. Habitual gum chewing and nail biting can also cause TMD.

It’s essential to get a diagnosis from a professional as soon as any jaw problems occur. Jaw pain can be symptomatic of series conditions like heart attacks or angina. Treatment is necessary to avoid difficulty chewing, limited movement, and swelling. If you’re having jaw pain, here are a few suggestions to help:

#1: Relieve the pressure on your jaw muscles.
Ease the pain by performing brief pressure exercises. Try placing your hands on your head with your thumbs behind your ears (think “The Scream” painting by Edvard Munch). Press gently but firmly into the back of your jaw bone and hold the pressure for 30 seconds. Then slowly straighten your neck and open your mouth as far as you can, release the pressure, and hold your mouth open for another 30 seconds.

Another way of relieving pressure is by gently massaging the area that’s bothering you. Apply pressure along your jawline and gums to help relax the muscles and increase blood flow. You can also try opening and closing your mouth repeatedly without letting your top and bottom jaw connect. This will aid you in increasing your range of motion and also help blood flow.

#2: Relax and de-stress.
Consider breathing exercises to help you relax and increase circulation. Simply take five or ten minutes to focus on your breathing, making your breaths deep and slow. Count to ten and feel yourself relax.

Because TMD is primarily caused by stress, we recommend taking serious measures to manage your stress level. This can be accomplished a number of different ways, depending on what suits your lifestyle and personality. Exercise, meditation, or counseling are just a few options to consider in order to reduce stress that could be causing you to clench your jaw and damage your joints, muscles, and teeth.

#3: Hot or cold pain relief.
Heat up a damp cloth and apply it to your jaw where the pain is most significant. Hold it there until the cloth has lost its warmth. You can choose to apply a gentle pressure as well. The heat of the cloth will help increase your blood flow, thus reducing jaw pain!

A cold cloth or ice pack is another easy solution. Simply press it against your jaw for 10-20 minutes and feel the pain gradually dissolve. Cold helps numb the pain, and it also reduces any swelling that can occur with jaw pain.

#4: Consult a professional.
Ultimately, you need professional intervention before your jaw pain develops into anything worse. If your jaw pain is related to TMD, look into getting a custom-fit mouth guard to stop grinding and clenching your teeth. And don’t worry about being seen in them, these helpful tools are usually prescribed to be worn during the night!

If a misaligned bite or misaligned teeth causes your jaw pain, you will need to correct the misalignment to relieve your pain. This can be done through adjusting the alignment, bridges, or crowns.

In some cases, Botox has been found to be an effective treatment for specific types of jaw pain, however, your dentist would need to determine the cause before making this recommendation.

There is a new FDA approved device that fits in the ear that has been shown to give relief after several weeks of use.

Sometimes, a surgical consultation is necessary if your pain is severe enough. If all other treatments have failed, you may need joint restructuring or replacement, or possibly ligament tightening. Surgery is the last resort, but it can be the solution to a life in pain.

Call us for a consultation to discuss your specific jaw pain and how we can help at: 562-434-6414.