Dentist Questions Jaw pain

What keeps causing sporadic jaw pain?

My jaw starts hurting every time I chew my food, and this started happening two weeks ago. What can be the cause? Should I see a doctor?

9 Answers

See your dentist. There are many possible reasons. Maybe you clench or grind your teeth during the day or night. Maybe your bite has changed and needs to be adjusted.
You may have a displaced disk in your jaw joint or muscle spasms. Try a mouthguard/night guard, over the counter from a drugstore may work, but you may need a custom made one from a dentist.
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It's a good idea to see a dentist to make sure nothing is going on with the jaw bone structure and muscles.
The cause can be joint or muscle related (TMD) and can be from clenching or grinding. Sometimes jaw pain can arise from a cracked tooth or a tooth infection. I would recommend seeing a dentist for an evaluation.
Jaw pain can be caused from several things. Usually when it comes and goes, it usually means it’s caused by something you’re doing to inflame the joint. Usually grinding, clenching, stress induced or trauma to the jaw can cause this. When you chew, your bone presses into a disk and if the disk is inflamed it causes pain. When your jaw gets inflamed, evaIuate if you’re under a lot of stress recently or if you might have been grinding or clenching. I would try put heat packs on your jaw when it’s in pain, massage the muscles around the joint, over the counter ibuprofen and don’t over use your jaw. No chewing gum, hard or chewy candy, steak etc. until the pain goes away. I would highly recommend a nightguard that your dentist makes too to help prevent further flare ups
Do an experiment. Open and close in your normal bite on your back teeth.

Be aware of your right and left jaw joints just in front of your ears. What is happening with your joints as you open and close fairly wide?

Now do the same thing with your jaw a bit more forward. Open and close on the biting edges of your front teeth. What is happening with your jaw joints in this position?

It is likely your jaw joints are more comfortable opening and closing in the “end on end” position than in your normal bite on your back teeth.

If this is the case, have your dentist make a device to hold your jaw in this position when you sleep. It is likely your joints will improve during your sleep so that the painful chewing is better.

You may eventually need to have your jaw in this position 24/7.

By all means consult a prosthodontist for a thorough evaluation. Your pain could come from your occlusion, an infected tooth, muscle imbalance from problems in the temporo-mandibular joint, or in the TMJ itself, just to name a few causes.
I certainly would see a dentist versus a physician for your jaw pain. He or she would check your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), your muscles, ligaments, and bite to try and determine the cause of your symptoms. You then may need to be referred to a specialist depending upon the findings.  
Hope this helps.

Steven Chamish, DDS
The jaw is a complicated joint and there are many possibilities of why it may be occurring. I would recommend seeing a dentist first. Your dentist will evaluate to see if it is a muscle or joint issue and have recommendations of what to do. There may be a device that is helpful or physical therapy might be in your future. Best bet, follow up with your dentist.

Hope this helps,

Jossi Stokes, DDS