Wondering why your jaw hurts? Dr. Nicholas Papapetros, Dr. Leo Kharin and Dr. Jessica Ristuccia, your Bedford, MA dentists at Great Meadows Dental Group, share information about several possible causes of jaw pain, including TMJ.
Grinding and Clenching
When you grind and clench your teeth all night long, you may wake up with a stiff, aching jaw. You might not be aware that you grind or clench until you crack a tooth, or your dentist points out tooth enamel erosion. Wearing a custom-made nightguard can stop the problem and end your jaw pain.
Jaw pain can occur if you have a bacterial infection in or around your tooth. Call your Bedford dentist as soon as possible if pain is accompanied by a fever, facial swelling or swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms are common if you have an abscess. If the infection isn't treated with antibiotics, it can spread throughout your body.
Antibiotics are also used to treat osteomyelitis, an infection that can affect the bone in your jaw joint. Prompt treatment of the infection can prevent death of the bone.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is a common cause of jaw pain. It can cause:
- Pain in the jaw that may extend to the neck or face
- Stiffness in the jaw
- Pain in your temples and ears
- Pain when biting, chewing or yawning
- Clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth
- Teeth that don't fit together properly any longer
- Locking of your jaw
TMJ can develop if you've injured your jaw or have a bite problem or arthritis. In some cases, you and your dentist won't be able to identify a cause. Home treatment, such as ice, heat and over-the-counter pain medication, can be helpful. If your pain persists, your dentist can prescribe stronger pain medications or muscle relaxants, or inject cortisone into your jaw joint to reduce the pain. Custom-made bite guards, worn while you sleep, reduce pressure on your jaw joints and relieve your symptoms. TMJ caused by bite issues can be improved by wearing braces to correct the misalignment.
Your dentist can provide treatments to relieve jaw pain caused by TMJ and other conditions. Call Dr. Papapetros, Dr. Kharin and Dr.Ristuccia, your Bedford, MA dentists at Great Meadows Dental Group in Bedford, MA, at (781) 275-7707 to schedule an appointment.