Women: Why Does Your Lower Jaw Hurt?

If you're a woman with severe jaw pain, you may feel at a loss of what to do about it. Lower jaw pain can be a sign of several things, including heart problems and temporomandibular joint disorder. It's important that you find out which problem you have to receive the appropriate treatment. Here are possible reasons for your lower jaw pain and what you can do to solve them.

Heart Problems

Heart problems, such as heart attack and angina, don't always reveal themselves through arm and chest pain. Sometimes, serious heart problems can present other symptoms, such as breathlessness, nausea, and jaw pain. Women in particular can experience these additional symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms of heart attack can linger for days or weeks before an attack actually occurs. 

You're at risk for heart attack if you smoke, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. Women over 55 years of age are also more vulnerable to heart problems. It's important that you seek medical care immediately to see if you're at risk for a heart attack, or if you experience any of the numerous symptoms above.

If a doctor reveals that you don't have heart problems, see a dental provider for follow-up care. You want to have your jaw checked for temporomandibular joint disorder. 

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) develops in the tiny joints and muscles that move the lower jaw. The tissues can experience wear and tear, injury, or inflammation over time. Although it's not readily understood why, the condition affects more women that it does men. Individuals who are 20-40 years of age are also more susceptible to the disorder. 

The symptoms of TMJD can vary from woman to woman, but the most common symptoms are clicking, popping, and cracking of the jaw when you open and close it. Some people experience pain when they chew or place pressure on the sides of the face at night.

A dentist will generally take X-rays of your jaw to see if you have TMJD. The pictures may reveal damage in the joints, or they may show signs of inflammation, such as swelling. A provider may physically examine your jaw to see if it has joint problems. For example, your jaw might feel tender when a dentist touches it during the exam.

Treatment for TMJD can include placing ice packs on your jaw to soothe the inflammation or alleviate the swelling. You may take prescribed pain medications to ease your discomfort. Sometimes, splints that support and hold the jaw in place at night may be used to help you sleep. If possible, sleep on your back to avoid placing pressure on the sides of your face.

To learn more about your lower jaw pain, contact a dentist office today.