Constant, Dull Jaw Aches? A Look At The Possible Causes

A constant, dull ache in your jaw can really interfere with your ability to enjoy life and get necessary tasks done. Even if the pain's not overly severe, it's hard to think about anything else! Far too many people ignore this aching jaw pain rather than tackling it head-on because they're not sure what's causing it. Here's a look at the possible causes and what you can do to handle each one.

TMJ Irritation

Is the pain originating from the spot where your lower jaw meets the portion of your skull near your ear? What you're experiencing is probably irritation of the TMJ, or temporomandibular joint. It can be brought on by dental misalignments, grinding your teeth at night, or an accident. In the short-term, you can calm TMJ pain by applying ice to the area and sticking to soft foods. To ease the pain in the long-term, you'll need to see a dentist. He or she can analyze the contributing factors to your TMJ pain and recommend a mouth guard, exercises, or orthodontics as needed.

Tooth Decay

Sometimes, the pain from a decayed or infected tooth can be "deferred" to the jaw. If you have not been to the dentist for a checkup for a while, now is the time to go. Other signs of tooth decay include a nasty odor in the mouth that does not go away with mouthwash and the appearance of black or brown spots on the tooth. Your dentist can address tooth decay with a filling, crown, or root canal, and your jaw pain should go away.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

If you've never had your wisdom teeth removed and they have not erupted into your jaw, there's a good chance they're causing your jaw pain. Wisdom teeth can sometimes grow sideways or underneath your other teeth, exerting pressure on your jaw. Having them removed surgically is really the only way to permanently get rid of this discomfort. While you may have some pain and soreness after surgery, it will be worth it since impacted wisdom teeth can cause infection and headaches in addition to the jaw aches you're already experiencing. In the short-term, holding ice against the sore area and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen can help.

Don't ignore jaw pain. Even if you cannot figure out what could be causing it, you're better safe than sorry. Talk to your dentist sooner rather than later. Contact a clinic like Jeffrey N Kenney DDS for more info.