Do you ever suffer from jaw or ear pain? Do you get headaches or earaches—even migraines? If you do, have you ever considered these problems could be stemming from your jaw?
Your upper and lower jawbones are not simply silent pieces of your skull. Because of the movement and pressure of chewing, these bones must function and align perfectly to remain problem- and pain-free.
Symptoms of Jaw Problems
A misalignment of the bones, or infection growing in the jawbone or a tooth, could result in any of these symptoms:
- Face or jaw pain
- Ear pain
- Pain and pressure behind your eyes
- A clicking or popping sound when you open or close your jaw
- Tenderness around your jaw muscles
- Swollen spots on your face or jaw
If they only occur occasionally, there’s little to be concerned about. But if these problems become chronic, you should make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. The cause could be something fairly minor that could be dealt with quickly or it could be the sign of something more serious. Only your dentist can analyze your symptoms and give you the answer.
Common Causes of Jaw, Face and Head Pain
There are four fairly common reasons people suffer this kind of pain.
- Impacted teeth: This usually involves wisdom teeth. When the space a wisdom tooth is supposed to erupt into is too tight, the body will adapt by pushing it in at an angle which often causes it to press on the adjacent teeth. This pressure can cause localized swelling and infections, jaw pain and difficulty opening the jaw. The usual solution is extraction of the impacted tooth.
- Abscessed teeth: If a tooth suffers untreated decay, a bacterial infection can develop. This infection can be located in the gum near the tooth or at the very tip of the root. Since these are very limited spaces, a growth of bacteria will normally cause pain, sensitivity to hot or cold and swelling in the face or cheek. The pain can radiate to the jawbone, neck or ear. An abscessed tooth must be handled immediately as this infection can affect your overall health. Some teeth may be able to be saved with a root canal but others will need to be pulled.
- Osteomyelitis: This word refers to an infection in a bone – in this case, the jaw. While this condition is fairly rare, it can require surgery to remove the infected part of the bone. Osteomyelitis often causes pain and swelling, reduced ability to move the jaw, fever and fatigue.
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD): The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge at the back of your jaw, just in front of your ear. Your lower jaw hooks into your skull in this area and it can suffer injury from a fall, car accident, arthritis, tooth grinding or excessive stress. This injury can cause pain, limited movement or a jaw that locks open or clicks as it moves. Pain can be felt in your neck or shoulders, as well. Surgery may be required to correct problems in this joint.
Correctly Diagnosing Head and Jaw Pain
It’s not possible to determine which problem could be causing your distress unless you get the right professional help. When jaw or face pain exist, a skilled oral surgeon is an indispensable asset. At Capital Oral & Facial Surgery Center, we can review your x-rays and determine the correct solution for this troublesome problem. Contact us if you are suffering persistent jaw, face or ear pain so we can properly diagnose and resolve the problem, as well as your discomfort.