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Lower jaw pain can be a quite distressing symptom and may lead to difficulty talking, chewing, or swallowing. There are several potential causes for pain in the jaw, and it is important for individuals to see a medical professional or dentist in order to get an accurate diagnosis. Some possible causes may include bone or joint injuries or diseases. In some cases, heart problems, including a heart attack, can lead to jaw pain. Treatment depends on the direct cause of the pain, making an early diagnosis vitally important.
A condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, is one of the most common causes of pain in the lower jaw. The temporomandibular joint is responsible for connecting the lower jaw to the skull. TMJ may be aggravated or brought on by medical conditions such as arthritis or by grinding the teeth, although the direct cause is not always easy to identify. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, or difficulty opening the mouth completely. Treatment often includes lifestyle changes, the use of prescription medications, or surgical intervention.
Arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, is another common cause of lower jaw pain. Arthritis may be caused by injury to the joint or supporting structures or may develop as a natural part of the aging process. Symptoms of arthritis may include pain, stiffness, and swelling. Treatment typically involves the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications as well as moderate lifestyle changes.
Bone metastases, or abnormal bone growths, are a leading cause of jaw pain. Cancer, especially bone cancer, is a common cause of this medical condition. It is important for people to have this problem treated right away to prevent the jaw from splitting open and causing severe medical complications.
Dental issues may sometimes lead to pain in the jaw as well, and these problems can typically be diagnosed during a routine dental exam. Some of these potential dental problems include untreated cavities or wisdom teeth that have been removed. In fact, any kind of dental surgery has the potential of leading to mouth and jaw pain. The original dental condition should be treated in order to relieve the discomfort.
Lower jaw pain is often treated with over-the-counter pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen, although stronger pain medications may be prescribed for severe cases. Rest or mild jaw exercises may be recommended, depending on the exact cause of the jaw pain. In rare instances, surgical intervention may become necessary.