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Whether you're experiencing a dull ache, lingering soreness or a stabbing sensation, pain in your jaw and face can be frustrating and, in some cases, even debilitating. Your facial or jaw pain could be caused by one of numerous sources, but here are some of the common culprits.
While you may think it would be obvious if you were grinding your teeth, the fact is that many people actually grind their teeth while they're sleeping and don't even know they're doing it. This condition, which can affect people of all ages, has a number of potential causes, including stressful situations, crooked teeth, an abnormal bite or missing teeth. In addition to causing headaches and jaw pain, teeth grinding can also lead to tooth fractures, tooth sensitivity and loose teeth. If you do grind your teeth, your dentist may recommend a mouthguard and general stress relief techniques to do at home.
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, results when the modified ball and socket joint that connects your upper and lower jaw doesn't function correctly. The joint's main purpose is to move the lower jaw in three directions: forward, backward and side-to-side. TMJ can feel as though your jaw clicks and pops, or as if it becomes momentarily stuck.
Severe headaches, a clicking sound and tender jaw muscles are common TMJ symptoms. Your dentist can diagnose TMJ for certain and offer you solutions for jaw pain. There are several approaches your dentist may take to relieve pain from TMJ, including simple changes in eating habits, exercises, medication or orthodontic treatments.
Reducing symptoms related to muscle tension can alleviate the accompanying headache you may have. Other coping mechanisms for a TMJ headache include avoiding excess chewing (such as chewing gum), making time for regular exercise and massaging your jaw.