Jaw pain affects millions of people worldwide. The pain can range from mildly annoying to severe and debilitating. In its worst state, jaw pain can inhibit eating and drinking, which can lead to malnutrition. Even when jaw pain doesn’t stop the person from eating properly, it can lead to tooth loss, dental cavities, migraines, acid reflux, indigestion, and a host of other health problems.
What Causes Jaw Pain?
Jaw pain can arise from a myriad of underlying conditions. Here are some of the things that can cause jaw pain.
Improper Sleep Posture
Most people sleep between six and eight hours a day. When you consider improper sleep posture for that length of time every night, it’s easy to see how it can lead to jaw pain. The depth and firmness of your pillow have a direct impact on the alignment of your neck and jaw. If your pillow is too high, an angle is created that tilts your head forward when you lie on your back, or sideways toward your torso when you lie on your side. If your pillow is too low, the neck and jaw can be pitched out of alignment and hyperextended. If you frequently wake up with jaw pain or more severe jaw pain than usual, you should start by reevaluating your sleep posture.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
TMJ affects nearly 12% of individuals. This condition is a malfunction of the bone, muscle and connective tissues in the jaw. It results in often excruciating jaw pain and headache.
Teeth grinding may occur consciously or unconsciously; often at night. Teeth grinding leads to worn and uneven teeth, which in turn leads to misaligned bite. A misaligned bite can then lead to even more jaw pain.
Those with allergies or over-productive mucous glands may suffer from sinus issues. Clogged sinuses lead to tense muscles, which in turn can lead to jaw pain.
How Jaw Pain is Treated
Luckily, jaw pain is treatable. There are a variety of jaw treatment options available, depending on the diagnosed underlying cause. Some of the treatments available include:
This is appropriate if the jaw pain is caused by abiotic sinus infection. In this case, relief can come as soon as a few hours.
Mouth guards are effective if the jaw pain is caused by nighttime teeth grinding. Your dentist in Toms River will be able to quickly and non-invasively determine if you have been grinding your teeth. Wearing a mouth guard will not only help prevent further jaw pain, but it will also help protect your teeth from damage.
If the jaw pain is related to a dental infection, root canal treatment may be recommended. While the root canal process can be uncomfortable, the lasting benefit of relief from jaw pain makes this a popular treatment.
Sleep Posture Adjustment
If the jaw pain is a result of poor neck alignment, a simple investment in a different pillow may alleviate the jaw pain. This is an easy fix and should be considered before other more complex remedies.
Jaw pain can hinder your enjoyment of day-to-day activities. As such, it makes sense to consult with your Toms River dentist to discuss your treatment options.