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10 Most Common Causes of Jaw Pain

Jaw pain on one or both sides can be a problematic condition that influences your ability to eat and talk. Jaw pain causes are attributed to a variety of factors, including your ears, teeth, and jaw itself. It may be hard to determine whether your jaw pain on one side or both sides directly caused by a jaw issue or something different. For example, Jaw pain might feel like ear pain and vise versa. 

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, about 12.5% of Americans have experienced orofacial pain at one point in their lives. Women seem to be more affected than men, as 70% of adults with jaw pain are women.

When it comes to jaw pain, getting the correct diagnosis is crucial. This is because there are numerous possible causes for this problem. Doctors must determine the exact source of jaw pain before treating it. They must do so to deliver the most effective treatment feasible. Jaw pain whether it is on one or both sides has the potential to be debilitating. This may occur if the person’s capacity to speak or eat begins to deteriorate.

Although jaw pain is not a life-threatening situation, leaving it untreated can have a significant impact on your life and lead to other problems if not treated properly. Over half of jaw pain patients, according to studies, have poor sleep quality, which is linked to increased pain and psychological stress.

Dr. Khalifeh will explain the different causes of jaw pain and their symptoms. In his next post, Dr. Khalifeh will discuss some effective home remedies to relieve your jaw pain symptoms.

What are the most Common Causes of Jaw Pain?

1. TMJ disorders or TMD

One of the most common causes of jaw pain is temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). Yes, TMD is considered the most common causes for jaw pain, which is mistakenly called TMJ. Although TMD is very common, many of the people who are suffering from TMD are unaware of it. However, this is true when the TMD symptoms are not severe, and pain only felt from time to time. TMD/TMJ disorder can be caused by teeth grinding, which over time may ruin your teeth and bite. Untreated TMD conditions can not only affect your jaw, but it can cause headaches, neck pain, ear pain, tooth ache and shoulder pain. Click here for mor information on TMJ disorders. TMD can cause jaw pain in one on both sides.

2. Muscle soreness

Your chewing muscles might get sore and painful. This can be caused by teeth grinding, excessive gum chewing, jaw trauma, stress, and other neurological conditions. Bad habits like ice chewing and fingernail biting might cause soreness of your jaw muscles. Over working your masticatory muscles will mostly result is jaw pain. Interestingly, if you regularly over work your jaw muscles, you might adapt and feel no pain. Unfortunately, this is dangerous as you might cause damage to your teeth and TMJ without noticing the problem. remember, muscle pain can cause jaw pain in one side or both sides. 

If you or anyone you know have jaw pain, consult our dentist at the Museum Dental Center as soon as possible for evaluation. Dr. Khalifeh will do a detailed exam to find the cause of your problem and decide the best treatment for your condition. He might suggest you get a splint or mouth guard to use while you sleep to avoid damaging your teeth and TMJ.

3. Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth usually come into the mouth after the ages of 17. It is not uncommon for wisdom teeth to cause jaw pain if they are partially erupted or misaligned causing food to trap next to them. Pain from the lower wisdom teeth radiates to the ears while pain from the upper wisdom teeth radiates to the eyes. Infection of the gum around the wisdom teeth might limit your mouth opening and cause face and jaw swelling. If your wisdom teeth are bothering you, the best thing would be to consult with Dr. Khalifeh for advice. Wisdom teeth can also cause jaw pain in one side or both sides. Not only wisdom teeth may cause jaw pain, they can present as ear pain too. 

4. Gum infection and Periodontal Disease

Generally speaking, gum disease or periodontitis does not cause pain until late stage of the disease. Whenever, untreated gum tissue infection could form an abscess. Gum abscess will be causing mild to severe jaw pain, face swelling and systemic symptoms such as fever. An abscess must be treated as soon as possible as it might spread to the bloodstream and cause life threatening systemic complications.

It is very important to monitor the health of your gums on regular basis. Dr. Khalifeh recommend treating gum disease as soon as possible before it gets out of control.

5. Teeth Problems

Teeth problems such as deep cavities, broken teeth, failed root canals and infections are major causes for jaw pain. A broken tooth with exposed dentine will be very sensitive to cold or hot temperature. A cracked tooth will be painful to bite and may be sensitive to cold or hot stimulation. If the tooth nerve gets infected, it may cause an abscess. Bacteria from abscessed or infected tooth might spread to the jawbone or to the bloodstream causing serious complications. Dr. Khalifeh recommend that you seek help as soon as possible whenever you feel any tooth ache. He also recommends developing the habit of regular check-up visits to your dentist to prevent major teeth issues.

6. Salivary Glands Infection and Stones

Major salivary glands produce saliva that lubricate the oral tissue and keeps your mouth moist. Saliva helps fight cavities, gum disease, and facilitate talking and eating. An infection in your salivary glands or an obstruction of the salivary flow such as when the gland duct develop salivary stone will cause jaw pain. In this case, the jaw pain gets worse during eating, smelling food, or even when thinking about food. Pain in your salivary glands may be felt as jaw pain or ear pain. 

Dr. Khalifeh is one of the few specialists who treat salivary glands diseases. If surgical treatment is needed, he will refer you to right specialist in your area.

7. Heart Attach and Coronary Heart Disease

Feeling jaw pain on one side usually the left side might indicate a serious heart condition. Ladies more than men may experience jaw pain on the left side of their face during a cardiovascular failure. It is often associated with difficulty in breathing, excessive sweat, discomfort, and a feverish feeling. Therefore, recognizing the source of your jaw pain in this case is a life saver.

8. Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is described as a sudden, but very severe facial pain. Patients describe it as a sharp stepping shooting pain, or an electric shock pain felt in the teeth, jaw or gums. It usually can last from a few seconds up to 2 minutes. The attacks stop for minutes or hours then come back on their own. The pain is severe and debilitating. Sometimes, patient describe an area in the face that triggers the pain when touched. This area is called Trigger Zone. Patients with multiple Sclerosis (MS) are more likely to experience Trigeminal Neuralgia as part of their symptoms. Neuralgia commonly causes jaw pain on one side of the face. 

Dr. Khalifeh is an Orofacial Pain Specialist who is trained to diagnose and treat neuralgia conditions.

9. Facial Migraine

Facial migraine feels like pulsating pain on the upper or lower jaw. It is very confusing to both the doctor and the patient and hard to diagnose. Facial migraine responds well to medications used for migraine headaches. Patients with facial migraine might have classic migraine associated symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Because facial migraine mistakenly diagnosed as dental problems, patients usually get several root canals and teeth extracted when they are seen by the wrong practitioner.

Dr. Khalifeh is an expert in recognizing and treating facial migraine. 

10. Sinus issues

Sinus infection or congestion as a response to allergic reaction will present itself as jaw pain. Recognizing this problem like all the above-mentioned conditions is the key for getting the best treatment results. Patients with sinus issues are usually referred to the ENT specialist for treatment.


Who I should See for Jaw Pain in Los Angeles?

Dr. Mohammad Khalifeh, DDS, MS. Is board-certified Orofacial Pain and TMJ specialist. He is a Diplomate American Board of Orofacial Pain. Dr. Khalifeh is TMD and Orofacial Pain authority doctor. Additionally, for over 25 years, Dr. Khalifeh is helping patients with TMJ and jaw pain in Los Angeles, Miracle Mile, Park La Brea, Beverly Hills, Larchmont Village, Hollywood, Santa Monica, California, and the rest of the word.

Our address: SAG-AFTRA Plaza, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite #5, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone: (323) 933-3855


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