Do you experience chronic toothaches? Are you not sure what is causing them? Have you been unable to find the cause of the pain? Sometimes the cause of pain in your tooth can be far from the tooth itself, such as in the jaw joint or muscles.

Here is how you can figure out if jaw tension might be causing your toothaches.

Why You Get Mysterious Toothaches

Eliminate Tooth-Related Causes

The odds are good that you have already talked to your dentist about these potential causes, but it is important to make sure that there is nothing in your teeth that could actually be causing the tooth pain.

Cavities are the most common suspect in your tooth pain. Some cavities can be hard to find, so it is worth your time to get a second opinion on this before assuming that you do not actually have cavities in the impacted teeth. And remember: just because you have a filling in a tooth does not mean you might not have a cavity. Cavities can develop around old fillings. Cavities can even develop under old dental crowns.

Speaking of fillings and crowns, these can actually be the cause of your tooth pain, especially old metal amalgam fillings, which can contribute to tooth sensitivity and pain. Sometimes fillings and crowns interact with your bite in an unhealthy way, triggering pain.

Tooth pain can also be caused by gum disease and receding gums. This exposes the roots of the tooth, which can be very sensitive.

A cracked or chipped tooth may also hurt. The pain may be constant or it may increase and decrease.

Sometimes, there may be tooth-related causes of pain that are also linked to jaw tension.

Check the Timing

Often, if jaw tension is causing your headaches, you can connect the two because of the timing. For most people, jaw tension will tend to flare up at certain times, and by tracking the timing of your toothaches, you can suspect that they might be related to your jaw tension.

If your toothache is related to jaw tension, you might notice that it tends to flare up when you:

  • Are at high stress levels
  • Have just eaten a hard-to-chew meal or snack
  • Have talked more than usual
  • Wake up in the morning
  • Exercise

If your tooth pain tends to occur at these times, then it is likely that jaw tension could be responsible for your tooth pain. If you also experience sore jaw muscles and/or a headache at the same time, that could be another sign that your toothache is related to jaw tension.

How Jaw Tension Can Cause Tooth Pain

If your jaw is tense, it can put excessive pressure on one or more teeth. Your teeth might seem hard, but they are actually kind of flexible. So when you put pressure down on them, they can squish slightly. This compresses the living nerve inside the tooth, which causes pain. If you do this often as a result of bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding), you may experience almost constant discomfort. 

Jaw tension can also lead to other problems that affect your teeth. It could cause excessive wear on the teeth, which makes them sensitive. Plus, when teeth are forced to flex, the enamel can flake off where it is thin, at or near the gum line. This exposes the inner layers of the tooth, making it sensitive, and also contributes to receding gums, which also leads to sensitivity.

Treat Jaw Tension to Reduce Tooth Pain

If you want to resolve tooth pain related to jaw tension, you have to treat the tension. Fortunately, we can do that. Much jaw tension is related to temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) and/or sleep apnea. Treating these conditions reduces the tension in the jaw so that your related tooth pain can be reduced or eliminated.

It is important to remember that the jaw tension is not just causing pain, it is causing damage to your teeth. The longer you postpone treatment, the more likely you are to need extensive restorative dentistry.

Tired of living with tension-related tooth pain? Please call (314) 678-7876 (Downtown) or (314) 678-7876 (Clayton) today for an appointment with St. Louis neuromuscular dentist Dr. Chris Hill at City Smiles.