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Why Does My Jaw Hurt?

Reasons for Aching Jaw

What does your jaw do for you, anyway? We take this part of our face for granted all the time, but come to think of it, you can’t do much without it. Your jaw helps you talk, drink, chew, and make facial expressions without thinking. That’s why jaw pain can be so frustrating – you can’t ignore it.

What causes pain in the jaw and are there ways to address the issue? Jaw pain can have various causes, and here are a few reasons why your jaw is aching.

Stress or anxiety can hurt your jaws. If you are under stress or have anxiety you can develop parafunctional habits, meaning you use your mouth or teeth in ways beyond their intended functions. Grinding your teeth (bruxism) is a classic parafunctional habit, clenching your teeth without realizing it. Grinding creates tension in the teeth and jaw, along with the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support your jaw. Stress can cause bruxism and lead to serious pain. Your doctor may prescribe a night guard, and also have tips on how to deal with stress that could be behind your bruxism.

A TMJ disorder can cause your jaw to hurt. Your temporomandibular joint on each side of your jawbone can act up. You experience stiffness, difficulty opening your jaw, your jaw feeling “locked,” painful clicking or popping when opening or closing your mouth, and a change in the way your upper and lower teeth fit together. Your doctor can perform a physical exam and imaging tests to see what’s wrong. It is typically transient and does not get worse. An NSAID like ibuprofen can be prescribed for the pain, ice packs to reduce inflammation, eating soft foods, doing jaw-stretching exercises, among others.

An impacted wisdom tooth may cause jaw pain. This third set of molars may not have enough room in your jaw to break through your gums properly, they can become impacted and cause pain. If your doctor thinks your jaw pain is due to impacted wisdom teeth, a dental X-ray can show their position, and if definitely impacted, the molar or molars will be remove surgically.

Something may be wrong with your bite. If you have a “bad” bite, you may only have a few teeth lined up. Bad bites can come in various forms, like an overbite (when your upper teeth overlap your lower teeth) or underbite (when your lower teeth overlap your upper teeth). With an uneven bite, your jaw can’t function as it should and can create wear and tear and resultant pain in its joints and muscles. Doctors can usually fix this with braces, but in extreme cases, surgery may be necessary.

Treating Jaw Pain in Lynnwood

Do you experience jaw pain from time to time? Don’t deal with this by yourself. Seek out your Lynnwood dentist and let us have a look-see. Treatment for jaw pain depends on resolving the cause.