Jaw Pain: Causes & Relief

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Do you have jaw pain? This lesson will go over many of the different issues that may lead to jaw pain and some fundamental solutions to reduce the pain.

Jaw Pain

There are many athletes in the world of boxing and martial arts that have what you could call a 'good chin' or 'iron chin'. The chin is, of course, intricately linked with the jaw. The jaw is actually made up of two large parts, the upper maxilla that doesn't move, and the lower mandible that moves up and down against the maxilla as you talk or chew.

The upper jawbone (maxilla) can be seen in yellow while the lower jawbone (mandible) can be seen in red.
Jaw

Regardless, even professional boxers probably have jaw pain every now and then. Let's see why they, and the rest of us, can have jaw pain and some of the ways by which this pain can be relieved.

Causes Of Jaw Pain

The first and most obvious way someone could have jaw pain goes back to our example. Boxers often absorb hard blows to the jaw. Physical trauma from a punch, a fall, a car accident, and so forth can result in a lot of jaw pain. Actually, physical trauma can damage the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the one that connects the jaw to the skull. Damage, misalignment, or arthritis of this joint can lead to jaw pain.

Another big culprit of pain is linked to our teeth. If there is an infected tooth, it can swell and cause our jaw to hurt. Another tooth-related jaw pain trigger is teeth grinding. When people grind their teeth, they they put pressure on their jaw which can lead to pain.

There are some more serious causes related to jaw pain, however. A bone infection, including that of the jaw, is called osteomyelitis and it can cause a lot of pain as the body uses the process of inflammation to try and kill off the infectious organism damaging the jaw. Some, but not all, people who have a heart attack may have jaw pain (rarely alone and sometimes with chest pain). In other instances the jaw, or areas of the head close to it, can develop cancerous growths that lead to jaw pain.

Jaw Pain Relief

So how do we make this pain go away? Well, that depends on what's causing it, of course! Jaw pain stemming from physical trauma may go away on its own with time or, in some cases, with the help of pain relievers. Serious physical trauma may require surgical correction. Like a disorder affecting the TMJ, a disorder that may similarly go away on its own or it may need pain relievers, muscle relaxants, or even surgery depending on its severity and root cause.

If the jaw pain stems from an infected tooth, then a visit to the dentist is in order pronto! And like boxers use mouth guards during a fight to guard their teeth, people who grind their teeth can wear mouth guards and practice stress relieving techniques.

Those who have a bone infection will need to be treated with a microbe killing drug, such as an antibiotic. Individuals with jaw pain who think they are having a heart attack need to seek immediate medical attention. People who have jaw pain stemming from cancer may need one of, or a combination of, three standard treatment options for cancer. One is surgery, where the cancer is removed out of the body. Another is radiation therapy, where the cancer is reduced in size. The third is chemotherapy, where cancer cells are killed with substances that are, in short, like a poison that negates their ability to divide or live in general.

Lesson Summary

Besides being hit in the jaw by Mike Tyson, jaw pain has a plethora of other causes, some of which are:

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