There are a lot of things that can cause your jaw to hurt, so properly diagnosing the cause is very important. The most common cause for jaw pain is clenching or grinding your teeth. However, your jaw may be hurting because of an infected tooth, or a problem with your jaw joint. Each of these problems have different solutions, so figuring out what is causing your pain is the first step.
What can I do at home to reduce my pain?
Over the counter pain medication like Ibuprofen can help reduce pain and any inflammation around the jaw joint. Magnesium has been shown to help relax muscles and can help relieve some of the tension related to TMJ dysfunction. Magnesium is found in foods like leafy greens, black beans, avocados, and pumpkin seeds. Magnesium supplements are also readily available, but you should talk with your doctor before starting any new vitamins or supplements.
Ice packs are a great way to get some relief. Most patients find relief by icing for 20 minutes, taking a 20 minute break, and icing again for 20 minutes. This can be repeated as often as you would like and will help reduce inflammation and dull the pain you’re experiencing. If your pain is muscle or joint related, massage can be an effective method to get some relief as well.
What treatments are available?
As mentioned before, the recommended treatment depends on what is causing your pain.
If your jaw pain is being caused by an infection of a specific tooth, then the treatment is usually either a root canal on the infected tooth, or to have that tooth pulled. Your dentist can help you determine which is the best option for you. We almost always opt to save the tooth with a root canal if possible.
Clenching or Grinding
The main cause of clenching and grinding is stress. Making lifestyle changes to manage and reduce your stress are great, but do very little to relieve immediate pain. If the clenching and grinding is due to overactive muscles, a neurotoxin like BOTOX® can be injected and relax the muscles that are causing your jaw pain. A night guard may also be recommended, depending on whether or not your clenching or grinding is happening at night. If you wake up with the muscles in your face sore or tense, then you may have what is called nocturnal bruxism, which is clenching or grinding when you sleep.
Sometimes clenching or grinding is caused by the teeth being in the wrong position. Correcting the alignment of your teeth with clear aligners like Clear Correct or Invisalign can help you optimize the way your teeth come together, improving your ability to keep your teeth clean, minimize the amount of wear and tear, and provide a more attractive appearance.
Sometimes clenching or grinding may be causing your pain, but the cause may be related to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common reason that people grind their teeth. Oftentimes your dentist or doctor will have a questionnaire that will help you decide if you should be screened for sleep apnea. If you do have sleep apnea and that is the cause of your jaw pain, treating the sleep apnea will help you get better sleep, but also result in eliminating your jaw pain as well.
Sometimes the jaw pain is caused by problems with the temporomandibular joint. This is the jaw joint. You may have clicking or popping when you open or close, or it may be painful to open wide. There may be issues with the disc in the joint, or you may have bone-to-bone contact of the joint that is causing the pain. It is possible that a nightguard can help alleviate pain from joint issues, or you may need neuromuscular therapy, or possibly even surgery. It is important to see someone who can give you the proper diagnosis to help you eliminate your pain.
How much does treatment cost?
There are a lot of factors that can change the cost of treatment. Insurance coverage, your location, and the expertise of the doctor are all significant factors that affect the price. Here are some ballpark averages that you can expect to pay if you do not have insurance:
Root Canal Treatment – $800 – $1400
Tooth Extraction – $200 – $450
Neurotoxin or Botox – $280 – 480
Night Guard – $400 – $800
Clear Aligners – $3800 – $6500
GET YOUR JAW PAIN TREATED IN TIGARD
Get your TMJ treated by our Tigard dentist, Dr. Andrew Henderson. At The Smile Lounge, we help you find the root cause of your TMJ and treat it at the source. Many people have searched for a solution to their TMJ for years, but you don’t have to. Call (503) 862-9086 to schedule an appointment, or click HERE to schedule online.