Dealing with jaw pain can wreak havoc on your day-to-day lifestyle. There are many common causes of jaw-related pain, but pain that exceeds 12 hours should be evaluated by a dentist. Often, a dentist can find and treat jaw pain more quickly and efficiently than a general practice physician as it is often related to the position or health of your teeth.
Causes of Jaw Pain
Seeking an experienced dentist is crucial if you’re experiencing jaw pain. There can be many different causes of jaw pain; some are quite a bit more serious than others, such as an abscessed tooth. An issue like an abscess needs to be evaluated and treated as soon as possible to avoid the spreading of infection that can lead to further illness or have detrimental effects on your health. Long-term jaw pain that recurs is often related to the structure of the jaw or personal habits we may not even be aware we are performing such as teeth grinding at night. Grinding teeth can lead to more chronic disorders like TMJ.
If you’re experiencing jaw pain, TMJ (Temporomandibular Disorder) is a common problem that can cause persistent aching and soreness that interferes with activities of daily life. Pain while eating, migraine or other chronic headaches, uncomfortable popping in your jaw joint, and painful muscle spasms can also be directly related to TMJ. All of these symptoms alone can be crippling enough to impede your daily activities, but there are many treatment options to relieve your pain and minimize suffering.
Though there are surgical treatments for TMJ, it is often unnecessary and the recovery time can be long and difficult. Bite guards are commonly used and often to great effect. Placing a bite guard in before you go to sleep at night can prevent you from grinding your teeth which is a primary factor in developing or worsening TMJ. Your dentist can help you to identify the most appropriate treatment for your jaw pain.
Other, less common causes of jaw pain could include neurological disorders like trigeminal neuralgia, cardiovascular issues like a heart attack or angina, or even vitamin deficiencies such as a deficiency in vitamin B-12. Though some of these conditions are benign and non-emergent, there are some that are significant risks to your health and can be a sign of life-threatening complications. Pain that shoots down the left arm or originates in the chest should be evaluated immediately as it can be a symptom of a serious medical emergency.
Neurological disorders are often referred to and treated in conjunction with a neurologist or other specialty clinic to try and manage nerve-related facial pain. Vitamin deficiencies are often an easy treatment that doesn’t require referrals to specialty clinics, but can still play an important role in your overall comfort. These can be diagnosed based on symptoms or occasionally blood work to narrow down the nature of the deficiency and the best comprehensive treatment.
Seeking Help for Oral Pain
Overall, finding a dentist that is experienced and able to triage, diagnose accurately, and treat your jaw pain is pivotal in finding lasting relief. Over-the-counter pain relievers often provide a quick, temporary relief that does not solve the underlying cause of the pain. Researching local dentists in your area to find one that specializes in the treatment of chronic or acute jaw pain is essential to returning you to a higher quality of life. You don’t have to suffer from jaw pain while trying to live your life to the fullest and relief could be just around the corner.
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