Is discomfort and pain in your jaw, cheek, or ear affecting your quality of life? You may have a condition that requires the care of an oral surgeon. Many of the people who struggle with orofacial or TMJ pain don’t realize that the discomfort originates from an issue within their jaw or a specific tooth. Depending on the cause, oral surgery could help relieve your pain for good.
Dental Abscess/Abscessed Tooth
If you have a cavity or crack in a tooth, the nerve tissues inside of it can become exposed to bacteria and develop an infection. As this process occurs, the infection causes swelling and pus, which drain out the root and through your bone and gum tissues. In some cases, the throbbing pain may radiate to your jaw or ear. If the infection is severe, you might also experience facial swelling or a fever. Abscessed teeth are best treated by root canal therapy (to remove the infected tissue and seal the tooth) or extracted to prevent the spread of the infection into other teeth.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD/TMJD)
Your temporomandibular joint (or TMJ) is the hinge-like joint on either side of your mandible (lower jaw) where it connects to the rest of the body. It allows up and down and side to side movement, allowing you to chew, speak, and swallow. When the joint or surrounding tissues aren’t functioning properly or are overused, it can lead to severe pain in your jaw, face, neck, shoulders, and back.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans suffer from a TMJ disorder. Usually, it’s caused by grinding or clenching your teeth (bruxism) or an injury that caused a misalignment in your jaw.
If you have chronic facial pain and notice clicking or popping in your jaw when you chew, you should speak with an oral surgeon. He or she will first recommend therapeutic, non-surgical options to adjust your TMJ and biting relationships, such as a splint or physical therapy. If those methods aren’t effective, surgery may be an option to correct your TMD.
Dry Socket After a Dental Extraction
After a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms inside of the now-empty socket to protect the underlying bone tissues. Sometimes, that blood clot doesn’t form properly or becomes dislodged, allowing air, food, and fluid to cause a painful infection. This situation can cause symptoms similar to an abscessed tooth, including swelling, fever, and severe pain. We call this scenario a “dry socket.” A dentist or oral surgeon will likely prescribe medication to alleviate your discomfort, then clean out the socket and place a medicated dressing inside of it to help your body heal.
You Don’t Have to Keep Living in Pain
As oral surgeons, our team is specially trained to diagnose and treat painful conditions of the face, mouth, teeth, and jaws. If you’re struggling with severe orofacial discomfort, relief is just a phone call away. Contact our Plainfield Oral Surgeon today for practical solutions that offer long-lasting relief so that you can live pain-free again.