The alarms rings, waking you up for another day. As you sit up in bed and yawn, you feel your jaw hurt but only on one side. How strange! What could the problem be, and should you be concerned about it? Does this immediately qualify as a dental emergency? In this post, you will learn about the most common causes behind one-sided jaw pain and what to do if it happens to you!
Causes of One-Sided Jaw Pain
Although there are some rare conditions or situations that can also result in one-sided jaw pain, such as a heart attack or tumor, here are the main culprits behind this unpleasant symptom.
The jaw joint, called the temporomandibular joint or TMJ, is very complex, so if there is something off, it can lead to pain. Some of the causes of TMJ disorders include arthritis, bite misalignment, bruxism, tissue damage, and more.
Various dental issues can lead to jaw pain in general. Below are several examples of these problems:
- Tooth decay: When a cavity has reached the tooth’s nerve, it sends a strong, painful signal to the brain.
- Impacted wisdom teeth: Wisdom teeth often develop at an angle, pressing up against other teeth, causing jaw pain.
- Abscessed tooth: Infections can occur underneath the gum tissue near a tooth’s root, which then affects the jaw.
Your sinuses are located just behind your cheeks and next to your jaw. When you get a cold, or even suffer from severe allergies, the sinus can become inflamed, affecting your jaw muscles and movement. As a result, although the problem does not come from the jaw, it can manifest as jaw pain.
Temporary Relief Tips
If you have one-sided jaw pain and want to get some relief in the short term, you can:
- Use cold to numb the area and manage swelling or heat to loosen stiff, tight muscles.
- Avoid hard, chewy, crunchy foods.
- Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater.
- Take over-the-counter pain reliever.
When to Seek Professional Help
In some situations, pain on one side of your jaw is only temporary. However, if your pain gets worse, persists beyond a few days, affects your ability to eat or drink, or becomes more localized to a particular tooth, you need to make an appointment with an emergency dentist. Likewise, swelling or fever are also signs of a more serious infection that requires professional intervention and treatment.
In the end, jaw pain may come on slowly or suddenly, but with this knowledge, you do not have to be caught off guard. You can feel confident in handling the situation and seek the right help if necessary.
About the Practice
Pioneer Greens Dentistry has been serving the Lincoln area for many years now. Dr. Chris and Dr. Claire Haag have undergone rigorous training and continuing education courses to treat complex problems as well as simple ones. If you are suffering from jaw pain, you can schedule an appointment at Pioneer Greens Dentistry by calling our office at 402-483-7502 or visiting our Contact Us page here.