What Does It Mean When Your Jaw Always Hurts?

According to Harvard Health Publishing, 30 to 40 percent of people in the United States experience orofacial pain, which includes jaw pain and jaw problems.

Medical News Today states that some causes of these discomforts and issues may include injury or trauma, teeth grinding or clenching, arthritis, and dental conditions like gum disease or damaged teeth. Symptoms range from facial pain, headaches, and swelling to a ringing in the ears and a clicking or popping sound in the jaw. The publication writes that after a physical examination, a doctor may prescribe medication, recommend physical therapy, or suggest dental treatment options. There are also steps that can be taken at home, such as eating soft foods, wearing a mouthguard, and trying out massages and stretches for the jaw.

But what is the most common cause of jaw pain, what does it mean, and how can it be helped, prevented, or fixed?

TMD and TMJ are the most common causes of jaw pain

The most common causes of pain in the jaw are temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and temporomandibular joint syndromes (TMJ). Healthline reports that almost 10 million Americans suffer from these problems associated with the temporomandibular joints — the hinge joints on either side of the jaw. TMD and/or TMJ issues may come about due to injury, excess stimulation, arthritis, or grinding and/or clenching, to name a few.

In order to correct the disorder/syndrome, a doctor may call for medication (over-the-counter or a prescription), therapies (like mouth guards, stretches, or even counseling), and/or surgery (such as arthrocentesis, modified condylotomy, or open-joint surgery), as reported by the Mayo Clinic.

The British Society for Occlusal Studies also lists out ways that may help relieve the pain at home. They recommend applying hot or cold packs, only eating soft foods, relaxing the muscles, and avoiding activities that put a strain on the jaw.

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