If you’re suffering with a sore jaw, then you’re probably wondering what it could be. It could be because of something relatively simple, like toothache, or a symptom of something much more serious, like a heart attack.
Here are some of the top reasons your jaw is sore or making clicking noises and what to do about them.
1. TMJ disorders
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joints, and these joints sit just at the front of your ears, allowing you to open and close your mouth. Around 1 in 8 people have a TMJ disorder, and it’s more common in women than men. A TMJ disorder can be caused by a jaw injury, arthritis, grinding or clenching your teeth, a misaligned jaw, or even inflammation in the muscles surrounding your jaw.
Research actually suggests that smoking and sleep dysfunction can also be risk factors, as they disturb the normal cycle of sleep. So, what are the signs of a TMJ disorder? They include:
- Clicking when you open your mouth
- Ringing in your ears
- Vision problems
- Dizzy spells
- Locking your jaw
Visiting a dentist is key, as they may be able to take x-rays to find the problem, and will want to examine your jaw. While this can go away without treatment, persistent symptoms should be treated. Pain relievers, muscle relaxants, therapy, and counseling may be worth a try, depending on the cause of the disorder.
2. Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
Bruxism is the name for tooth grinding. If this is something you do, teeth may look flat on top and maybe shorter than they used to be. This tends to occur mostly during sleep, and you may wake up with a dull headache and sore jaw. A mouthguard can help to protect your teeth, but stress relief techniques and anti-anxiety medication are options. Teeth grinding can cause more issues over time, and jaw pain may be the least of your worries if you don’t find a solution.
3. Jaw Cancer
If cancerous cells begin in the upper or lower jaw and go unnoticed, they can spread through the whole body. Symptoms include pain and numbness in the jaw, as well as lumps, sores, and abnormal growths outside or within the mouth. Risk factors include smoking, chewing tobacco, and your family history.
Even tumors or cysts may be a problem. They can grow in the soft tissues of the mouth and face, although they are usually not cancerous. That being said, they can grow quickly and will affect your teeth if not dealt with.
4. Heart Attack
If severe jaw pain starts suddenly, especially in the lower-left section, it could be a sign of an oncoming heart attack. The heart itself doesn’t have pain receptors, so pain is sent to other places to signal that something is wrong. Go to the emergency room immediately if you think you could be suffering from a heart attack.
Contact Signature Smiles Today
Whether you’re looking for general dentistry or want to find out the cause of your sore jaw/clicking noises, get in touch with Signature Smiles to book your appointment today!