Merion Village Dental Blog

Jaw Pain: Should You See A Doctor Or A Dentist?

July 24, 2023


Categories: MVD Patients

Jaw Pain Specialists

Jaw pain can be a persistent, painful condition that damages your health and quality of life. But, determining the underlying cause of jaw pain and deciding whether to seek medical or dental attention can be a confusing process. Let’s provide clarity on all things jaw pain, including the common causes of throbbing jaw pain and the potential culprit of Temporomandibular Disorder (TMJ. When you understand the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options at your disposal, you will feel empowered to make the right decision to address your jaw pain, now or in the future!

Where Does Jaw Pain Come From?

Dental Issues

Tooth decay, gum disease, abscesses, and impacted wisdom teeth are common dental problems that can cause jaw pain. If you have recently experienced dental issues or are overdue for a dental check-up, they could be contributing factors to your discomfort.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Grinding or clenching your teeth, often unconsciously during sleep, can lead to jaw pain. The excessive pressure placed on the jaw joints and muscles can result in inflammation, soreness, and discomfort.

Trauma or Injury

A direct blow to the jaw or face, such as from a sports-related accident or an unfortunate fall, can cause jaw pain. If you recently experienced any trauma to the jaw area, it is essential to have it examined to rule out fractures or other serious conditions.

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMJ)

TMJ is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jaw to your skull. It can cause a range of symptoms, including jaw pain, facial pain, difficulty in chewing or opening the mouth fully, and clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw.

Diagnosing Jaw Pain With A Dentist

While you may have not narrowed down the cause of your jaw pain, it’s always a good idea to visit Merion Village Dental to alleviate your pain fast. During your visit, you’ll go through several steps to track down the pain source and give the diagnosis that brings relief!

Comprehensive Evaluation

When it comes to diagnosing jaw pain, we at Merion Village Dental employ a comprehensive approach to identify the underlying cause accurately. The first step in the diagnostic process involves a thorough examination of your medical and dental history. We will ask about any recent trauma or injuries to the jaw, previous dental procedures, or existing dental conditions. In order to build a picture of what is going wrong with your jaw, we need the whole picture of what your mouth has been through.

Physical Examination

Next, one of our dental experts will conduct a physical examination of your jaw, teeth, and surrounding structures. They will observe the jaw’s range of motion, feel the muscles and joints for tenderness or abnormalities, and assess your bite and dental alignment. We may also request dental X-rays or advanced imaging techniques such as a CT scan or MRI to obtain a clearer picture of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and detect any structural issues or damage. Once the physical examination and imaging are complete, it’s time to analyze all the data for a clear diagnosis.

Treating Jaw Pain

The treatment of jaw pain depends on the specific diagnosis and severity of the condition. Dentists offer a range of treatment options to address various causes of jaw pain effectively. For example, if the jaw pain is a result of dental issues such as tooth decay or gum disease, the dentist will initiate appropriate dental treatments such as fillings, root canals, or periodontal therapy to resolve the underlying problem and relieve the associated jaw pain.

Splints & Mouthguards

In cases where jaw pain is attributed to bruxism (teeth grinding), we may recommend the use of dental splints or mouthguards. These custom-fitted oral appliances help protect the teeth from grinding during sleep, reducing the strain on the jaw joints and muscles.

TMJ Treatment

With a TMJ diagnosis, our team will create a treatment plan designed to your unique needs and pain relief. These may include lifestyle modifications, dental splints or mouthguards to alleviate teeth grinding, physical therapy exercises, or stress management techniques. In some cases, we may refer you to a specialist, such as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or a TMJ specialist, for further evaluation and advanced treatment options.

Dentist Or Doctor?

With the complexity of a condition like jaw pain, intimate knowledge of the mouth structures is vital to healing your mouth, making a dentist the better medical expert to see in this situation. While a general doctor may be able to find the source of your pain and address it broadly, a precise solution for your jaw will only come from a dental specialist, like Columbus, Ohio’s very own Merion Village Dental!

Schedule An Appointment For Your Jaw Pain With Us!

Whether you require routine check-ups, dental restorations, or cosmetic dentistry, our team can address all your dental needs under one roof. Our dentists have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating TMJ, staying updated with the latest advancements in TMJ care to ensure the most effective and cutting-edge treatment options. 
If you are experiencing persistent jaw pain or suspect TMJ as the underlying cause, scheduling an appointment with a Merion Village Dental dentist is an important step toward finding relief. Don’t let jaw pain hold you back any longer! Take control of your dental health and book an appointment today.

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