Why does my jaw ache?

There are a number of possible causes of an aching jaw. Until the
problem causing the pain is corrected, jaw ache can cause make it difficult to
chew or drink. Severe jaw pain can even cause headaches and can be a symptom of
a bad infection or even heart problems.

Is an aching jaw serious?

Not all jaw ache is a symptom of a serious condition. It can be
caused by innocuous activities like excessive gum chewing or jaw clenching
resulting from stress. This results in simple exhaustion of the jaw muscles and
are easily correctable once diagnosed by
a health care professional.

Sometimes the sources of jaw ache are not always so easy to pin
down. They can be neurological, muscular, or pathological (caused by an
infection). A visit to the dentist can determine if achy jaws are caused by a
breakdown in oral health. Then they can usually be easily corrected by a
dentist or an oral surgeon.

What’s causing the ache?

The most common cause of dental-related jaw pain is the existence of cavities, which can be corrected with a simple filling. Pay attention to the pain and act quickly however, as pain is an indication the hole may be quite large.

Tooth abscesses are a bit more serious as an internal infection in
the tooth can migrate to the jaw bone causing the jaw to ache. A speedy visit
to the dentist is required where a  root
canal therapy or extraction may be required. Although we prefer not, a course
of antibiotics  may be prescribed by your
dentist if it is necessary to clear up the infection. Just remember however
antibiotics from a health care provider are never the solution alone as your
dentist has to remove the cause of the infection.

Gum disease can also affect the jaw area making your jaws ache
with a periodontal (around the tooth) abcess or loose tooth.

Teeth grinding causes jaw pain and you may not even be aware you
are doing this while you sleep. Your dentist can mold a dental guard, so teeth
aren’t worn by constant grinding and recommend stress release techniques so you don’t experience jaw pain from tension.

Misalignment of teeth due to over and under-bites or missing teeth
can also cause pain. This can be corrected by orthodontics (braces), dental
appliances, or dental implants.

The eruption of wisdom teeth is a very common cause of jaw ache
and something many people suffer from. Wisdom teeth can partly erupt and impact,
creating infection and pain in the jaw bone. Your dentist can remedy this
all-too-common problem by removing your wisdom teeth.

When it’s not your teeth

Some causes of jaw ache are not dental-related even though the pain is experienced in the jaw area. Like pain from earaches or sinus infections, or heart pain on exercise. Once your oral health professional has ruled out dental-related causes for the pain they may suggest you see your general practitioner or a neurologist for further treatment.