Jaw pain when drinking hot fluids

Jaw Pain - Causes and Treatment

The term jaw pain is usually used to describe all those complaints that affect the chewing apparatus, which is made up of the jaw joints, the teeth, the jawbone and the masticatory muscles. Pain in the jaw can be very uncomfortable and have a variety of reasons, but often the night-time grinding of teeth is the cause, through which the chewing surfaces of the teeth are heavily worn and as a result of which tension develops.

In addition to this, bacterial or viral inflammation in the jawbone or the temporomandibular joint, misalignment of the (wisdom) teeth or a functional disorder of the temporomandibular joints or cranio-mandibular dysfunction (CMD for short), in which the pain often affects other areas of the Body (head, back, ears etc.) radiate. In many cases, those affected report diffuse pain in the jaw area, through which everyday activities such as speaking, drinking or chewing can be massively impaired - accordingly, jaw problems should always be clarified by a dentist or orthodontist in order to avoid health risks.

Definition jaw pain

Jaw pain is a collective term for pain in the area of ​​the two bones of the facial skull, in which the teeth are usually located. The pain can be further divided into complaints of the upper jaw (lat. Maxilla), the lower jaw (lat. Mandibula) and the temporomandibular joint (articulatio temporomandibularis), via which the lower jaw is flexibly attached to the temporal bone (os temporale). While the lower jaw can be moved by the chewing muscles and thereby, for example, enables chewing movements or the closure of the mouth, the upper jaw is not movable. The upper and lower jaw are only indirectly connected to each other.

Causes of jaw pain

Pain in the jaw is often difficult to assign because of the multitude of possible causes. In addition, the jaw pain often radiates to other areas, so that it is no longer easy to determine whether the origin of the discomfort is actually in the jaw or, for example, in the head or ears. Precisely because the cause cannot be recognized so quickly in many cases, the general well-being of those affected suffers greatly, because eating, drinking and speaking are usually very difficult due to the pain.

Jaw pain left and right

A very common cause of jaw pain on the right and / or left side are signs of wear and tear in the area of ​​the temporomandibular joint (TMJ osteoarthritis). The temporomandibular joints are the two most frequently used joints in the body, which are constantly in motion not only through biting and chewing, but also through speaking and swallowing. Like all other joints, the temporomandibular joint also wears out and develops osteoarthritis over time as a result of the disproportion between stress and resilience. Due to the permanent heavy load, the risk of TMJ osteoarthritis increases significantly with age.

In addition to this, however, incorrect loading of the jawbone can also be the reason, which in turn can often result from the loss of molars, but also from incorrectly fitted or worn dentures or old, worn dental fillings. Caries, periodontitis, injuries or inflammation can also be the trigger for TMJ arthrosis, as can the grinding of teeth at night (bruxism), which now affects a large number of adults and children. In this case, the teeth are unconsciously pressed against one another or rubbed against one another to such an extent that the jaw muscles and jaw joints are overloaded, which often leads to irreparable damage to the entire chewing system.

Osteoarthritis in this area often manifests itself initially as rubbing, cracking and creaking noises in the temporomandibular joint, in addition to which there is usually limited mobility of the jaw. It is also typical that those affected not only experience chronic jaw pain when yawning, chewing, speaking or opening their mouths, but often also suffer from headaches and complaints in the neck, shoulder or ears.

Jaw pain with a cold

Pain in the jaw can also occur in connection with a cold (also known as “flu-like infection”), which is one of the most common illnesses and affects adults on average around three times a year and preschool children up to ten times a year. A cold is an acute infection of the upper respiratory tract, usually caused by viruses such as adeno, rhinos, parainfluenza or coxsackieviruses. Infection occurs primarily via droplet infection, which means that pathogens spread through coughing, sneezing, speaking, etc. in the air and are thus inhaled by other people.

In addition to this, contact infection (also known as "smear infection") is also possible, in which the infectious germs enter the body via the hands on the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes and nose. Since the defense against pathogens requires a strong immune system, the development of a cold is also favored by immune-weakening factors such as hypothermia, lack of sleep, stress or other illnesses, as well as being with many people in closed rooms (e.g. at work, at events, in kindergarten, etc.) .) represents an additional risk, especially in the cold weddings of autumn and winter.

Typically, a slight sore throat or a dry throat appears at the beginning, and there is often scratching in the throat and pharynx. As soon as the cold has "broken out", there are usually other symptoms such as cough, runny nose, hoarseness, headache, fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and a general feeling of weakness - although the symptoms can appear in very different combinations and intensities.

If the cold was caused by viruses, it is also possible that a bacterial infection (“superinfection”) occurs in addition to the virus infection, because since the defense mechanisms are already weakened by the fours, bacteria have an easier time re-infecting the affected tissue . In children in particular, a cold often leads to otitis media, and sinus infections, pleurisy or pneumonia, tonsillitis or bronchitis are also possible.

Jaw pain from wisdom tooth

Wisdom teeth can also be the reason for pronounced jaw pain, usually caused by the fact that one or more of these teeth do not have sufficient space in the jaw. The wisdom teeth are the last teeth or the third molars in the upper and lower jaw, which the dentist also calls "8s". These third molars are basically a relic from the past, when humans had to chew food even more than they do today - accordingly, the four wisdom teeth represent a so-called "rudiment", as they still occur very often, but at the same time have no function at all today.

In most cases, the figure 8 does not break through until adulthood, although in only about 50% of people there is enough space in the jaw, which means that the teeth often remain completely enclosed in the jaw or only partially break through (partial retention). While teeth remaining in the jaw usually do not cause any discomfort, a breakthrough due to the lack of space, especially in the lower jaw, very often leads to severe jaw pain, which often begins slowly, but then gradually gets worse and is often accompanied by headaches.

If the teeth can only partially break through due to the lack of space ("Dentitio difficilis"), accumulated food residues and bacteria quickly lead to acute or chronic inflammation, which is usually accompanied by a "puckering" or "throbbing" pain often radiating to the ear and temple. If the wisdom teeth only break through in one jaw, they can also become a sliding obstacle due to the missing tooth in the opposite jaw (antagonist or "opponent"). This in turn increases the risk of tooth damage, teeth grinding (bruxism) and temporomandibular joint problems, which can ultimately lead to severe toothache.

Jaw pain can also occur after a wisdom tooth operation. As a rule, these are not a cause for concern, but, like swelling, bruises or a restricted mouth opening, are normal side effects or after-pains of the surgical procedure. However, the symptoms should get better from day to day - otherwise it could also be a complication such as the so-called "alveolitis sicca" (also "dry alveolus"), which occurs more often, especially after the wisdom teeth of the lower jaw have been removed expresses severe postoperative pain and sometimes also through bad breath.

Alveolitis sicca is caused by bacterial decay or the loss (e.g. as a result of vigorous flushing) of the coagulum (blood clot), which leaves the bone unprotected and causes severe pain. Since the pain does not go away without dental treatment, in this case it is essential to visit the dentist again so that the wound can be treated again. The same applies if the bleeding does not subside even after a few days as a result of the operation and / or other symptoms such as fever, chills or severe swallowing difficulties occur.

Jaw pain and ear pain

Since the temporomandibular joint, the external auditory canal and the middle ear are close to each other, it can also happen that problems from the jaw area spread to the ears, which also leads to ear pain. Examples can be misalignments of the teeth, signs of wear and tear or inflammation, but it is particularly common that pain as a result of erupting or crooked wisdom teeth, caries or root inflammation radiate into the ear area. Tense chewing muscles can also cause jaw pain that becomes so severe that it radiates to the ear. Regardless of the cause, complaints in the jaw that also affect the ears should always be assessed by a dentist, because these can often be alleviated quickly and easily, for example with a custom-made occlusal splint.

Jaw pain and cracking from CMD

If, in addition to the pain in the jaw, there is an unmistakable cracking noise, for example during the morning yawning or increased grinding of teeth (bruxism), this can also indicate a so-called cranio mandibular dysfunction (CMD). The term CMD (Latin “cranium” for skull, “mandibula” for lower jaw and “dysfunction” for disorder), literally translated as “skull-mandibular disorder” encompasses a number of clinical symptoms of the masticatory muscles and / or the temporomandibular joint as well as the associated ones Muscles and bones (upper and lower jaw or skull). A CMD, often referred to as a "disturbed bite", can be associated with a variety of symptoms, primarily in addition to toothache, pain in the masticatory muscles and in the area of ​​the temporomandibular joints, which are usually made worse by chewing or other lower jaw movements.

However, the disorder can also affect the whole body and thus be the cause of ear pain, ringing in the ears or tinnitus, dizziness, visual disturbances, headache and facial pain, problems opening the mouth or burning mouth as well as tension in the neck and back. Many of those affected also show pronounced masticatory muscles (hypertrophy) and sometimes massive signs of wear and tear on the hard tooth substances due to the pressing of the jaws and grinding of the teeth.

Another typical feature is that CMD patients, especially with acute complaints, report that the teeth no longer fit together properly or that a certain tooth is "disturbing". A CMD affects around 5-10% of the adult population, and those affected often do not even know that their symptoms are due to a "wrong bite". Since the dysfunction can cause many nonspecific symptoms in addition to a number of specific symptoms, there is often no clearly recognizable connection between the chewing apparatus and complaints such as severe headaches - which is why these are often misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated over the years.

A craniomandibular dysfunction can have various causes, often changes in the bite are the reason, for example caused by missing teeth or incorrectly fitting dentures. Often, however, CMD is also closely associated with negative stress and extraordinary psychological stress, which leads to increased pressure of the jaws or teeth grinding. Other possible causes are trauma to the cervical spine (cervical spine syndrome) or the temporomandibular joints, for example as a result of an accident or fall, poor posture of the upper body, operations in the head and neck area or metabolic disorders. In addition, "bad habits" such as permanent chewing gum or chewing fingernails can lead to CMD, as they permanently overload the masticatory muscles and promote an unnatural position of the lower jaw.

Therapy for jaw pain

Depending on the various possible causes, there are also different approaches and methods to treat jaw pain. For example, while simple home remedies often bring significant relief from a cold, craniomandibular dysfunction usually requires the individual adjustment of an occlusal splint. If the complaints are due to negative stress, relaxation methods can help to achieve more inner calm and balance, among other things.

Treatment for a cold

If you have a cold, in most cases it heals on its own within about 14 days, usually after three to four days there is a significant improvement in the symptoms. The administration of antibiotics usually makes no sense in the case of a "simple" cold, since it is usually a viral infection. However, if there is a second bacterial infection ("superinfection"), antibiotics must be used as soon as possible, otherwise complications can arise quickly and the disease in certain risk groups (e.g. infants and small children, people with a weakened immune system) can be fatal in particularly severe cases .

If you have a normal cold, however, there are various home remedies for a sore throat or runny nose. In addition to this, tried-and-tested home remedies for coughs such as inhalations with sage or thyme can help to alleviate the symptoms.

Cough suppressants, on the other hand, should only be used very carefully, if at all, as they block the coughing up of the pathogen-containing mucus. Fever is also usually not a health problem in the context of a cold, as it is one of the body's natural and sensible defense processes. The situation is different, however, if this is very high, parallel breathlessness, severe pain, lack of fluids, cramps or circulatory weakness or fainting, the person concerned generally suffers from a chronic illness or was abroad prior to the symptoms. In these cases, a doctor should definitely be consulted in order to get to the bottom of the causes of the complaints.

Therapy for craniomandibular dysfunction

In the case of CMD, interdisciplinary treatment is usually sensible and important, in which the disorders in the mouth are corrected by a dentist, but effects on other areas (such as posture and statics) are carried out by appropriate specialists (such as orthopedists, ENT specialists, neurologists etc.) can be treated. A “bite splint” (medical: occlusion splint) made of plastic has proven itself in the treatment of both acute and permanent CMD. On the one hand, this reduces the grinding of teeth or the pressing of the masseter muscles and thus protects the teeth permanently from further wear. On the other hand, the splint can help to relieve tension in the masticatory muscles and thereby relieve pain. In addition, a "cracking jaw" can be effectively reduced, for example, and the position of the temporomandibular joints can be corrected and stabilized.

The splint is made individually based on an exact denture impression - which is necessary because even a small irregularity in the bite can result in a CMD and an unsuitable splint can aggravate the symptoms.Depending on how pronounced the disorder is, the splint is worn either only at night, but sometimes also around the clock, so that the "wrong bite" can change permanently, it must also be checked regularly and adjusted if necessary. In the case of acute pain, medication can also be used to alleviate the problem - although these cannot eliminate the actual causes of the CMD and should therefore only be taken after precise consultation with the attending physician (s).

Physiotherapeutic measures also often offer very good help in that not only disorders of the masticatory muscles and / or the temporomandibular joint are successfully treated, but also, for example, exercises for improved mouth opening can be learned. In addition, physical measures (heat, cold applications, red light, etc.), acupuncture as well as osteopathy and craniosacral therapy are often used.

Naturopathy for jaw pain

If the jaw pain occurs in connection with a cold, it is not always necessary to resort to medication, rather, especially with lighter forms, for example, various home remedies for colds have proven themselves to alleviate the symptoms in a natural way.

Inhalations, among other things, are particularly suitable here, because they relieve coughs and clear a blocked nose, and the irritated mucous membranes of the nose and sinuses are moistened. You can inhale either with a special device with a mouth and nose attachment or in the “classic” way using a steam bath. In this case, the face is held over a bowl of boiling hot water and a towel is placed over the head so that the steam cannot escape. The steam is then inhaled deeply and calmly through the nose several times with eyes closed (about five to ten minutes) and the process is repeated two to three times a day for a few minutes.

Various herbal remedies have proven to be useful for inhalation, which are added to the bowl before infusion, above all chamomile, which counteracts inflammation, fights bacteria and relieves colds. Essential oils from eucalyptus, mountain pine or spruce needles can also be very beneficial when inhaled, as they loosen stuck mucus from the upper respiratory tract and can therefore also be used in acute sinusitis.

Jaw pain due to stress - therapy and tips

In the area of ​​the jaw in particular, pain is often triggered by psychological stress, which is discharged in the form of grinding, pressing or rubbing on the teeth and can thus lead to massive problems and complaints. Accordingly, in addition to using a "bite splint" and various physiotherapeutic and physical measures, it is also important to consider methods that can help relieve stress and tension.

Alternative medicine offers a variety of exercises to reduce stress, which can help "not to take the stresses of everyday life with you to sleep". Progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobsen is particularly suitable, but autogenic training, tai chi or yoga also lead to long-term improvement or relief for many of those affected. At the same time, psychotherapy can be very useful in some cases in order to be able to deal with deeper-lying conflicts and problems and to develop strategies for a “healthier” way of dealing with stress.

In addition to this, even small changes in everyday life can help to resolve inner unrest and tensions during the day and thus promote relaxation at night. This includes, for example, banning cell phones, computers and televisions from the bedroom and avoiding drafts, because "disturbances" of this kind mean negative stress for the body, which in turn can lead to unconscious tension. In order to alleviate mental tension, there are also a variety of essential oils from the area of ​​aromatherapy. Here, for example, for those affected who feel mentally exhausted and drained, the scent of lavender, lemon balm or valerian in the form of a scented sachet on the pillow can have a positive effect on sleep and thus ensure more relaxation.

In other cases it is helpful to drink hot milk with honey as a "sleep aid" because milk contains the amino acid tryptophan in relatively high concentrations. This is needed to produce the messenger substance serotonin in the brain, which in turn ensures general well-being on the one hand and acts as a "natural sleep aid" on the other. In addition to this, the psychological effect of hot honey-milk should not be underestimated, because especially for children, "sucking" on the bottle is so calming that falling asleep is no longer a problem.

Treating jaw pain in children

In many cases, homeopathic applications have also proven effective in younger children who suffer from bruxism. Belladonna (9C) comes into consideration here, which is used with 3 globules before going to bed. Chamomilla (C9) is also often used in the form of three doses of 9 globules each day, and Cina is also a proven remedy for children, which is suitable for treating teeth grinding.

Even if homeopathy often proves to be effective and beneficial for childhood bruxism, it cannot of course solve the problem in all cases. Accordingly, if the jaw pain and / or discomfort in the area of ​​the head, temples, etc. persists, parents should always consult a dentist in order to avoid serious complications from prolonged pressing and rubbing. Under certain circumstances, it can also make sense to seek support from a child and adolescent psychotherapist or appropriate counseling center in order to be able to help the child appropriately in the event of possible problems or conflicts and thus better resolve the causes of the nocturnal teeth grinding. (No)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.

Dipl. Social Science Nina Reese
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Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.

ICD codes for this disease: K10ICD codes are internationally recognized codes for medical diagnoses. They can be found, for example, in doctor's letters or on certificates of incapacity for work.