When you experience jaw pain, sleeping, eating, and enjoying your day-to-day activities can be difficult. There are many different causes of jaw pain, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, bruxism, infections, injuries to the facial bones, muscles or ligaments, misaligned teeth, arthritis, pregnancy, or can be caused as a result of an underlying medical condition.
Whatever the cause, it’s important to seek treatment for jaw pain immediately so it doesn’t become more serious.
Here are some health tips for managing your jaw pain:
1. Take over-the-counter pain medication
You can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to help manage the pain. Some medications, such as aspirin and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), also help with the pain. If your symptoms are severe, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for more vital medication.
You can try out this home formula if you can’t get medication. Place an ice pack or cold compress around the painful area of your face for 20 minutes at a time, three times a day (or as needed), when experiencing the pain. Be sure not to apply ice directly to your skin — wrap it in a thin towel before applying.
2. Stop grinding or clenching your teeth
This is one of the most common causes of TMJ disorders and tooth wear. To stop grinding or clenching at night, try wearing a mouth guard or bite splint at night and during the day when you feel stress building up in your mouth.
3. Maintain good oral hygiene
Maintain good oral hygiene to reduce bacteria in your mouth and around your teeth. This can be achieved by brushing and flossing regularly.
Brush your teeth at least twice daily using an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes.
Brushing stimulates saliva production, which helps maintain oral health by washing away bacteria that cause cavities and periodontal (gum) disease.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush gently and thoroughly twice daily for at least two minutes each time to remove plaque from all surfaces of the teeth and gums. Floss once daily to remove food particles from between teeth.
4. Stay away from tobacco products
Avoid tobacco products, which cause dry mouth, increase bacteria growth, and worsen symptoms of TMD and other oral health problems such as periodontal disease.
5. Eat balanced diet
Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, healthy fats such as nuts and fish oils, low-fat dairy products (low-fat milk or yogurt), and foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruits), vitamin A (sweet potatoes), zinc (oysters) and calcium (low-fat milk or yogurt).
These vitamins and nutrients from the food help in keeping the jaw healthy. Calcium helps strengthen the jaw, and Vitamin C helps fight off infections.
6. Eat soft food
Eat soft food, which are foods that are easy to chew and swallow, may help reduce discomfort in your mouth and jaw. Avoid crunchy foods like popcorn or pretzels, which irritate your teeth and gums.
7. Sleep well
Make sure you have a good night’s sleep. Consider taking over-the-counter sleep aids if you have trouble sleeping because of jaw pain. Sleep deprivation increases stress levels, which can exacerbate jaw pain.
8. Stay hydrated
All the joints and muscles of the body need sufficient hydration to function properly and maintain lubrication. When a person does not drink enough water, pain and inflammation of the joints and muscles, including the temporomandibular joint, can occur.
Therefore, one of the most vital ways to avoid a TMJ symptom pain is to stay hydrated. Drinking water frequently daily will keep your body hydrated and will help to relax the muscles in your jaw, neck and shoulders.
9. Visit your dentist regularly
Visit your dentist regularly for cleaning appointments every six months or as recommended by your dentist.
A general dentist can help patients who have been diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder. They understand how the jaw functions and can offer patients who are suffering from jaw pain different types of treatment options.
10. Consult an orthodontist
See an orthodontist if you think that misaligned teeth might be causing your jaw discomfort. An orthodontist can correct any issues with crooked teeth by using braces or other orthodontic devices, such as retainers, to keep them in place after treatment is complete
Jaw pain can be very frustrating and painful. Ensure you stick to the above health tips in managing jaw pain when experiencing one.