Unfortunately, most people don’t pay a lot of attention to their jaw, until it isn’t working correctly. We use our jaws for some of the most basic functions like talking and eating, so when those functions become more difficult, it can have an immense impact on our day-to-day life. Here are some of the most common reasons people experience jaw pains:
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Teeth grinding is the most common reason you will wake up with jaw pain. Bruxism usually occurs while you are sleeping and may cause you to have a constant dull headache or a sore jaw, especially upon waking. If you suffer from bruxism, your teeth will be shortened and appear flat on top.
Improper Bite (Malocclusion)
Malocclusion results in difficulty or dull pain while chewing or speaking. The pain level from this condition will steadily increase over time as your teeth settle into their final positions, so it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible to begin fixing this problem.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS)
MPS manifests as chronic pain in the muscles or the cases that surround the muscle called fascia. Myofascial pain is most commonly centered in the jaw muscles and the three main symptoms of MPS are facial pain, restricted jaw use, and a clicking or popping noise when talking or eating.
Jaw cancer cells begin in the upper or lower jaw, and can spread to the whole body depending on their aggressiveness and how they are treated. To check for jaw cancer, look for numbness or pain in the jaw, and persistent sores, lumps, or other abnormal growths outside the jaw or within the mouth. If you are a smoker, someone that chews tobacco products or have a family history of jaw cancer, you are at a higher risk and should get screened regularly.
A bacterial infection, tetanus can cause a condition called lockjaw, which is exactly what it sounds like. This condition makes it difficult to open your mouth or swallow because your jaw muscles go into painful spasms. If you cannot open your mouth or swallow, please CALL 911 OR GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM.
If your sore jaw is from a heart attack, you will feel severe pain in your jaw that comes on suddenly—most commonly in the lower left section. You can feel a heart attack in your jaw because the heart itself doesn’t have pain receptors, so it sends its distress signals to other places. Two of the most common are up and down the left arm and jaw. If you feel sudden, intense jaw pain CALL 911 OR GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM.
If you experience trouble breathing, bleeding in the mouth, sudden misalignment of your jaw, and/or difficulty moving your jaw, your jaw may be broken. If you experience any of these symptoms CALL 911 OR GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM.
At SDS, our patient’s comfort is our highest priority. If you or a loved one is experiencing jaw pain, please call our office at (847) 957-3537 to schedule an appointment.