How to Prevent Jaw Pain
Your jaw is one of those body parts you don’t think about until it isn’t working correctly. Once it starts causing you pain, you realize how much you use it and need it to move without pain. While jaw pain can be frustrating and uncomfortable, it is something that can be treated with proper care and visits.
Causes of Jaw Pain
Jaw pain, or temporomandibular disorder (TMD), has many different causes. Chewing gum frequently, grinding your teeth, tooth pain, or even cluster headaches can cause pain in your jaw and along your jawline to your ear. Some people also experience something called trigeminal neuralgia. Trigeminal nerves run along the side of your face, and if your nerve endings are malfunctioning, you can experience shooting pain along the entire side of your face. Sometimes more serious issues, like a heart attack, can lead to jaw pain. If you suspect your jaw pain is caused by a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
Symptoms of Jaw Pain
Besides the obvious—pain—there are many other symptoms of TMB. These include swelling along your jawline, ringing in your ears, a clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth, a toothache, a headache, or soreness around your neck and shoulders. You might also experience a locked jaw, meaning you are having difficulty opening and closing your mouth.
Treating and Preventing Jaw Pain
Stress management: To prevent jaw pain, try to reduce the amount of stress you’re experiencing. Stress can have a devastating impact on our bodies, including in our jaw. If you’re under stress, you could be clenching or grinding your teeth and jaw more than you realize. This pressure can cause pain in your teeth and jawline, leading to TMD. By managing your mental stress, you can relieve the physical stress on your jaw.
Chew only as needed: Chewing gum or tobacco can lead to stress on your jaw, so reducing the amount of time spent chewing can help reduce your jaw pain. If you are a frequent gum chewer, try to limit the pieces of gum you chew per day. If possible, stop chewing gum or tobacco entirely to give your jaw an extended rest.
Use ice or heating pads: Occasional jaw pain that presents as a sharp pain can be treated with ice. Make sure the ice isn’t directly on your skin—use a paper towel or a washcloth to wrap it, then apply it to your jawline for 10 minutes at a time. If your jaw pain is more of a steady, dull ache, use a heating pad for 20 minutes each time. Keep repeating as needed throughout the day.
Orthodontic treatment: Sometimes jaw pain is caused by misaligned teeth and jaws. Getting properly aligned teeth and jaws with orthodontic treatment can help alleviate or prevent jaw pain. An orthodontist will typically treat a misaligned jaw through the use of braces or Invisalign, straightening your teeth and correcting your bite. This can alleviate most of your jaw pain.
If you are ready to treat your jaw pain, contact Milnor Orthodontics today.
At Milnor Orthodontics, our experts are here to help you achieve a priceless smile. Call our office at (970) 484-3214 or visit milnororthodontics.com to learn more. We're located at 1103 S. Shields St. in Fort Collins, Colorado.