The jaw joint or temporomandibular joint connects the skull bone with the mandible. It plays a crucial role in opening the mouth, chewing, biting, teeth clenching, yawning, talking, shouting and many other activities. With tenderness or soreness of the jaw, these regular activities become very painful. Even one experiences difficulty in opening and closing the mouth. Indeed, a sore jaw impairs our day-to-day routine directly or indirectly, and should be addressed at the earliest.
Sore Jaw Causes
Soreness of the jaw can be contributed by a lot of factors, including teeth misalignment (malocclusion), ill-fitted denture, arthritis problem and accidents. So, finding the actual reasons for jaw pain is not so easy. Only a doctor can identify the underlying causes of jaw tenderness after examining the symptoms and running diagnostic tests. Some possible reasons for a sore jaw include the following.
- Injury of the jaw joint and adjoining muscles is a prime cause for soreness of the jaw. Any trauma to the jaw area caused by accidents can ultimately lead to jaw swelling and pain.
- In many patients, the temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ syndrome) is the cause behind jaw pain and soreness. People affected with this joint disorder may have jaw pain on one side or both sides.
- Sore jaw is also a sign of mumps in some patients. What happens is, swelling of the parotid glands gets spread to the adjacent jaw area, resulting in jaw soreness.
- Similar to other joints of the body, the TMJ is also prone to arthritis. If such is the case, jaw soreness, inflammation, tenderness, stiffness and pain are expected symptoms.
- Infection of the ear parts and periodontal disease may also result in a sore jaw. In such cases, fever, chills and other symptoms will accompany jaw soreness.
Treating a Sore Jaw
A sore jaw joint is very difficult to deal with. If it is causing throbbing pain or disturbing eating and normal activities, don't delay in taking medical help. Truly speaking, there is not much to talk about home treatment for a sore jaw, except for adopting self-care tips to ease the painful symptoms. And the appropriate therapeutic guidelines depend upon the root causes of this painful condition.
Take Adequate Rest
Resting the affected jaw area can help prevent further irritation to the sore jaw. Give time to heal the inflamed portion for quick recovery. Do not put any kind of stress over the jawbone or pressurize it. Whenever possible, try not to open your mouth widely. The point is not to shout loudly or yawn with open mouth. These simple instructions will surely help in reducing jaw pain.
Hot and Cold Compresses
Applying hot and cold compresses does work for combating the pain symptoms associated with a sore jaw. While hot packs of convenient temperature promotes blood flow in the affected areas and helps in quick recovery, cold compresses numb the jaw and gives relief from severe pain. They aid in reducing swelling and inflammation of the affected portion.
Another reliable option is performing TMJ exercises. They are effective to deal with the root cause, and increase mobility. Nevertheless, remember that too much straining and stretching the painful jaw will worsen the condition. So, take time to learn massage therapy and stretch exercises to minimize stiffness and stress over the affected jaw area.
Changes in Diet
Reducing foods that cause over stimulation of the salivary glands help in soothing a sore jaw joint. Make sure that liquid and soft foods make the chunk of the diet, to reduce the need for chewing. In short, avoid eating hard food items, sticky foods and chewing gum, which can put pressure to the sore jaw and exacerbate pain symptoms.
Wearing Mouth Guards
For people diagnosed with TMJ disorder, the doctor may recommend mouth guards to help realign the jaw joint. However, the effectiveness of this device in treating a sore jaw is doubtful. It doesn't have anything to do with the pain and soreness. Many users complain of exacerbated pain after using the same. In such a case, consult the doctor for change in the treatment strategies for jaw soreness.
The above mentioned approaches will help in easing pain, swelling and discomfort symptoms of a sore jaw. For preventing future episodes of this jaw condition, be careful to avoid injury and trauma to this sensitive portion. Also, consider treating ear infection, gingivitis and other infections in the early stages, which otherwise will spread to the jaw joint.