Jaw pain can happen because we try to chew something a little too rough, grind our teeth at night, or even if we just sleep on it wrong. If you experience mild jaw pain, here is what we recommend trying at home. Plus, we’ll discuss when it’s time you come see the dentist.
Jaw Pain Causes
When you experience pain in the jaw, it can affect how you eat and talk. Most jaw pain is the result of injury to the jaw, but it can also be a side effect of something going on with your sinuses, ears, or even your dental health. Healthline explains that the top cause of jaw pain is:
Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMD)
TMD is the most common cause of jaw pain, affecting 10 million Americans. This disorder by itself can have several different causes, like:
- Pain from the muscles that control jaw movement
- Injury to the jaw joint
- Excess stimulation of the jaw joint
- A displaced disc that usually helps cushion jaw movement
- Arthritis of the protective disc that cushions the jaw joint
Further, Healthline explains that damage to the jaw joint or the muscles that control jaw movement can be caused by:
- Grinding your teeth at night
- Involuntary clenching your jaw due to stress and anxiety
- Trauma to the jaw joint, like getting hit in the face when playing sports
At Home Tips for Jaw Pain
To do everyday things like speak, chew, and even yawn, you need a healthy jaw and jaw joint. Even when you experience mild jaw pain, it can really disrupt your life. If your jaw pain is caught early on, Colgate suggests the following tips you can try at home:
- Limit and avoid certain things. Try to avoid eating foods that are chewy, sticky, and crunchy. Additionally, you should try to avoid eating tough cuts of meat and other difficult-to-chew foods.
- Relax the jaw. We can hold a lot of stress in our jaws. Rest has proven to be an excellent home remedy for jaw pain. To do this, focus on basic mouth movement and keeping your jaw in a soft, relaxed position. Try to not hold your jaw tensely, clench your teeth subconsciously, or open the jaw while yawning and overextending the muscle. If you’re someone who grinds your teeth at night, wearing a nightguard can greatly reduce pressure placed on the jaw.
- Try ice and heat therapy. Apply an ice pack to the outside of the jaw to help reduce any swelling and inflammation that might be present. Then, apply a warm, moist washcloth to help prevent stiffness.
When to See Young Family Dental for TMD Treatment
Unfortunately, not all cases of TMD can be treated at home. If your pain has been persistent and hasn’t improved with the at home remedies you’ve tried, it might be time to consider professional treatment options.
At Young Family Dental, we offer neuromuscular dentistry for TMD. Neuromuscular dentistry is a treatment that focuses on correcting jaw misalignment. When you have TMD, it means that you have a problem with the joint leading to pain in your jaw and in the muscles around it that help with movement.
While most TMD patients can find relief with over-the-counter pain medications, sometimes your dentist may recommend other medications that have been proven to relieve tooth grinding or other muscle relaxants for short-term relief of muscle spasms causing your pain.
In addition to medication, it might be recommended that you try an oral splint or mouthguard to help keep your jaw in place and avoid teeth grinding. Additionally, there are other nonsurgical treatments that are effective in helping relieve jaw pain. Physical therapy can help stretch and strengthen these muscles, and counseling or other mental health therapies can help you better cope with stress that can contribute to teeth clenching or grinding.
When you come in for your jaw pain, our dentists will begin with an examination to officially diagnose your TMD. We will listen and feel your jaw opening, identify any particular areas of pain, and watch how well you can move your jaw. From there, we may also want to see dental X-rays or other imaging to get a better look at your teeth, jawbone, muscles, and other tissues around these joints.
Make an Appointment with Young Family Dental
Our team of dentists at Young Family Dental use neuromuscular dentistry to help treat your facial and jaw muscles, working to restore them to optimal positions and relieving pain associated with TMD. Pick a location closest to you and get the help you need today with Young Family Dental.