Monday, June 20, 2016

Why does my jaw hurt?

            The Today Show recently did a segment titled: “Why does my jaw hurt? 4 odd symptoms women over 40 shouldn’t ignore.” Obviously we believe anyone with jaw pain should visit the dentist, regardless of their age. But it is interesting that the article was directed to women over 40. Even if you are in excellent health and take good care of yourself, you are still getting older and certain risk factors increase with age.

What should I do when I first experience jaw pain?
            If the area is sore, it is possible you aggravated or sprained a muscle or ligament associated with the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). And like most acute injuries, your jaw requires rest and anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Alieve). It would also be helpful to rest the muscles by avoiding gum and chewy foods for a few days. If the symptoms do not subside within a week or two, then you should come in for a more thorough exam.

What if I have jaw pain and tooth pain at the same time?
             If both the teeth and jaw hurt at the same time, it is possible the problem could be related to the jaw or an individual tooth. You can sometimes experience referred pain because the nerves to the teeth are closely related to the nerves of the TMJ. Your first option would still be rest and anti-inflammatory medication. But if it is more than a day or two, I would recommend coming in for an exam to help determine what the cause could be.
What is the most serious concern if you are experiencing jaw pain?
            Jaw pain can be associated with heart attacks, but it is more frequent in women than in men. I don’t recommend going to the emergency room any time you experience jaw pain, but you need to be aware of all of the symptoms and your risk factors. So if you are experiencing jaw pain with some of the more traditional heart attack symptoms, it would be a good idea to call your doctor or 911 if serious enough.

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Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

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