There are a number of possible causes of an aching jaw. Until the problem causing the pain is corrected, jaw ache can cause make it difficult to chew or drink. Severe jaw pain can even cause headaches and digestive problems.
Is an aching jaw serious?
Not all jaw ache is a symptom of a serious condition. It can be caused by innocuous activities like excessive gum chewing or jaw clenching resulting from stress. This results in simple exhaustion of the jaw muscles and are easily correctable without a visit to a health care professional.
Sometimes the sources of jaw ache are not always so easy to pin down. They can be neurological, muscular, or pathological (caused by an infection). A visit to the dentist can determine if achy jaws are caused by a breakdown in oral health. Then they can usually be easily corrected by a dentist or an oral surgeon.
What’s causing the ache?
The most common cause of dental-related jaw pain is the existence of cavities, which can be corrected with a simple filling or a root canal therapy.
Tooth abscesses are a bit more serious as the infection can migrate to the jaw bones causing the jaw to ache. A round of antibiotics prescribed either by your dentist or doctor may be necessary to clear up the abscess.
Gum disease can also migrate to the jaw area making your jaws ache.
Teeth grinding causes jaw pain and you may not even be aware you are doing it in your sleep. Your dentist can mold a dental guard so teeth aren’t worn by constant grinding and recommend stress release techniques so you don’t experience jaw pain from tension.
Misalignment of teeth due to over and under-bites or missing teeth can also cause pain. This can be corrected by orthodontia (like braces), dental appliances, or dental implants.
The eruption of wisdom teeth is a very common cause of jaw ache and something nearly everyone suffers at one time or another. Wisdom teeth can impact, creating pain in the jaw bone. Your dentist can remedy this all-too-common problem by removing your wisdom teeth. The most common times for wisdom teeth are high stress times such as leading into Xmas, exam time or a life event.
When it’s not your teeth
Some causes of jaw ache aren’t dental-related even though the pain is experienced in the jaw area. Like pain from earaches or sinus infections or muscular pain. Once your oral health professional has ruled out dental-related causes for pain they may suggest you see your general practitioner or a neurologist for further treatment.