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Jaw Pain

Jaw pain can be incredibly painful. Its disruption to your life can be frustrating.

It’s not unusual to experience jaw pain. It's quite common and it can cause constant discomfort. It can have a big impact on simple, everyday actions like talking and eating. Jaw pain can be so uncomfortable it can make it difficult for you to focus. Most people experience tenderness and pain of the jaw as well as facial pain and have difficulty opening their mouth wide. Some people even experience headaches and earaches caused by their jaw pain.

Symptoms of jaw pain

Jaw pain can be chronic and even unbearable. When it's left untreated it can sometimes lead to even more serious problems. There are times when people will experience jaw pain from chewing tough food or from constantly chewing gum. This type of jaw pain is usually temporary. However, in most cases, jaw pain is constant and can be the result of more serious problems like temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly known as TMJ.

The most common symptoms people experience when they are having problems with jaw pain or TMJ are a painful or tender jaw, pain in and around your ear, pain in the temporomandibular joints and difficulty or pain when chewing. Other symptoms may include pain around the rest of the face and difficulty opening or closing your mouth.

Causes of jaw pain

Jaw pain can happen for a number of reasons. A common cause of jaw pain is temporomandibular joint disorder, known as TMJ. The temporomandibular joint is a very important joint in the body. It allows for complex movements including talking, eating and swallowing. TMJ can be caused by trauma or injury. This could be from playing sports or from an accident. Other causes of jaw pain and TMJ include:

  • Dental issues, such as poor jaw and tooth alignment
  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Stress, leading to tightened facial muscles

There are some cases when you might experience jaw pain after chewing tough food or opening your mouth too wide. The pain will usually go away in a day or two. More serious jaw pain will require treatment by a dentist or a specialist.

Have questions?

The price of treating jaw pain depends on how it's treated. If dental treatment is needed the cost of treatment will depend on which method of treatment is needed. If you need orthodontic work such as braces or a dental appliance the price will also depend on the length of treatment. At your consultation appointment, your dentist or orthodontist will give you an idea of the overall price of treatment.

Sometimes you can treat jaw pain with medication or by performing jaw exercises, eating a soft food diet or using relaxation techniques. In most situations, constant jaw pain will require specialist treatment from a dentist or specialist. This may mean orthodontic treatment is needed to fix the alignment of your teeth or jaw, or you may need a dental appliances such as a plate.

There are a few different causes of jaw pain but the most common cause is from TMJ. The causes of TMJ can be from injury, poor alignment of the teeth and jaw, arthritis or from grinding teeth and clenching the jaw. Some people may also experience jaw pain from chewing tough foods or constantly chewing gum.

There are a few ways you can help manage jaw pain at home. These include moist heat, ice, eating a soft diet, trying relaxation techniques or jaw exercises and pain medication. Home treatment might only be a temporary way to treat the pain however. If you're experiencing constant jaw pain it’s best to book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

We get it. We’re New Zealand’s largest group of dentists so we’ve seen more scared patients than any other dental practice in the country. For most people who are scared about visiting the dentist it’s because they’ve had a bad experience in the past. Relax. Our gentle and compassionate dentists understand how you feel. Whether you’re anxious or worried about experiencing more pain or the potential cost of the treatment, the best thing to do is to let us know how you feel. Making sure you feel comfortable is part of our job.

Yes. You can greatly reduce your chances of jaw pain by taking good care of your oral health. That means a combination of at-home dental care and building a great relationship with your dentist.

We recommend daily healthy habits and regular visits to the dentist. For optimum oral health:

  • Practice good oral hygiene habits at home including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day
  • Book hygiene visits with an oral hygienist or oral health therapist twice each year
  • Book routine exam and x-rays visits with your dentist once each year

The Lumino Dental Plan is a cost-effective way to ensure your oral health is given the priority it deserves. It’s an affordable ongoing subscription plan that keeps you on top of your oral health. We know that when you look after your oral health properly with regular preventative care, you’ll be less likely to need to see a dentist in an emergency. You’re also likely to spend less money at the dentist over time.