Is there an urgent need to be seen for my occasional jaw pain?

I see my dentist regularly, but every time I go I keep forgetting to mention that I have occasional pain. It’s not any specific tooth. It seems to be more of a general ache all over, reaching from one side of my jaw to the other, that starts right when I wake up and fades throughout the day. Since I don’t have this problem all the time, I don’t think it’s serious, but I do wonder what the cause could be. Any idea what it might be? I don’t want to waste mine or the dentist’s time with an appointment if it’s not serious.



Dear Kent,

There are lots of ways to waste your time, like checking for yourself on the People of Wal-Mart website, wrapping every item in your coworker’s cubicle with cling wrap, dressing your cat in festive outfits for photo shoot so you can make a calendar to give out to your closest friends at Christmas or surfing You Tube for the latest teen challenge craze now that the salt/ice cube one is old news, but getting a proper diagnosis for pain will never be a waste of anyone’s time. Since you’re not experiencing ongoing or acute pain, it doesn’t sound like a dental emergency, but it’s certainly worth mentioning to your dentist at your next visit. If it flares up before then or your next appointment isn’t coming up soon, you might want to consider getting your problem diagnosed sooner.

Because your discomfort is strongest in the mornings, you’re probably injuring your jaw overnight. The most common reason for this is bruxism, grinding your teeth while you sleep. Treatment is usually fairly simple in situations like yours and it involves your dentist making a night guard or splint for you to wear to bed at night. If the discomfort continues after that, additional treatment may be needed. If you continue on without treatment, you risk injuring your jaw and wearing down or breaking teeth, among other things.

I hope this helps shed some light on the cause of your occasional jaw pain. Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to find out what goes on in the minds of those featured on The People of Wal-Mart, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin emergency dentist, Dr. Sirin.

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