Why Does My Jaw Hurt?

A sore jaw can be a real distraction from your day, and the sooner you can figure out what’s causing the pain, the sooner you can get back to your regularly scheduled activities. But it can be harder than you might think to pinpoint the cause of your jaw pain. There are a number of different things that can cause your jaw to hurt. Take a look at some of the possible causes of jaw pain and learn how you can find out what’s causing yours.

Tooth Grinding

Grinding at night can cause bruxism

Does your jaw feel tight and sore when you wake up in the morning? You may be grinding your teeth in your sleep. This condition, called bruxism, can be  responsible for a lot of jaw pain, and because the grinding happens while you sleep, it’s easy to be unaware of what’s causing it. 

Your dentist will be able to tell if you’ve been grinding your teeth because your teeth will show signs of wear. Your dentist may recommend a nighttime mouthguard that will prevent you from grinding, helping ease your pain and protect your teeth from further damage. 

Tooth Infection

Why does my jaw hurt? Tooth infections can cause your jaw to hurt.

While a tooth infection might occur in your tooth or your gums, not your jaw bone, it’s possible for the pain to radiate into the jaw area. 

If you have a tooth infection or abscess, your dentist will probably prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection. Depending on the location and severity of the infection, you may also need a root canal to prevent the infection from recurring. 

TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder is a condition that affects the joints on either side of your jaw that allow it to open and close. In addition to jaw pain, you may also have difficulty moving your jaw or hear popping or clicking sounds when you open or close your jaw. 

TMJ can be caused by one or more of several factors, including arthritis, injury or dislocation of your jaw, or misalignment. Depending on the cause, your dentist may prescribe a number of different treatments, from relaxation techniques to jaw exercises to medications. 

Heart Problems

It’s important to remember that your mouth is connected to the rest of your body, and symptoms in the mouth area can signal a problem occurring somewhere else. This is particularly true of jaw pain, which is sometimes a symptom of a heart attack. This is known as referred pain – it happens when the nerves around the heart send pain signals to other parts of the body. 

How can you tell if the jaw pain you’re experiencing is a sign of a heart attack? If chewing or speaking makes the pain worse, then it’s probably caused by something affecting your jaw, not your heart. While morning jaw pain can have several causes, your risk of heart attack is higher in the morning, so be aware that this could be a sign of a heart attack. And if your jaw pain is located on the lower left side of your jaw and accompanied by shortness of breath or pain in your shoulder or chest, you should definitely seek emergency medical attention.

If you’re experiencing pain your jaw, or anywhere else in your mouth, schedule an appointment so we can take a look.

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