Jaw Pain on the Right Side

Jaw pain is a common complaint and often represents a minor problem or dental issue. More serious conditions like jaw arthritis can also manifest as pain in the jaw and deserve prompt medical attention. Symptoms for each causative condition vary and treatment options vary accordingly.

Causes and Treatments of Jaw Pain on the Right Side

1. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that can become inflamed or irritated due to several factors. Chewing gum is a common cause of overuse and causes TMJ pain.

Symptoms

Right side jaw pain and headaches, nausea as well as dizziness.
A popping or creaking sound is often heard as well. Some are tender to touch when pressing in front of the ear.
Pain radiates close to the ear canal.
Severe cases cause difficulty opening the mouth and chewing.

Treatments

Resting the jaw and eating soft foods are a mainstay of treatment.
Stop chewing gum or hard candies.
Ice packs can help with the swelling and inflammation, while heat can help to relax the jaw muscles.
OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen, Tylenol or Aleve can provide relief.
Seeing your dentist for further evaluation is helpful. Many benefit from wearing a splint at night to prevent excessive grinding of the teeth.
Occasionally a doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants or steroids. Advanced cases that do not respond to traditional therapy can be referred to an oral surgeon or dentists who specialize in TMJ therapy.

Self-massage to relieve TMJ jaw pain

2. Trauma

Injuries and trauma to the jaw result in jaw pain. Pain may be felt on the side of trauma or on the right side depending on the direction of the blow. The jaw can be bruised, fractured or dislocated.

Symptoms

Pain is the hallmark of right sided jaw trauma.
Swelling and bruising can occur.
When trauma occurs, the teeth may not fit together properly and chewing is difficult.
The person may also feel some degree of numbness due to bruising of nearby nerves.

Treatments

Ice compress and painkillers can be applied to reduce pain and swelling.
An imaging test such as x-ray or CT is indicated in cases of suspected fracture.
Repair can be accomplished using plates, screws and wires to immobilize the jaw and allow the fracture to heal.
If there are any cuts or lacerations in the mouth, an open fracture may be present. This allows bacteria from the mouth to contaminate the fracture. These cases require repair in the operating room.

3. Bruxism

People with this condition grind, clench, tap and grate their teeth side to side when sleeping.

Symptoms

Common symptoms include headaches, jaw and neck pain, tooth pain and premature wear of the teeth.
Occasionally a person may fracture a tooth from excessive bruxing.

Treatments

Bruxism treatment includes stress management and occasionally medication such as muscle relaxants or antidepressants.
The first option should be a visit to the dentist who can offer a night splint. These devices cushion and protect the teeth similar to a mouth guard.

4. Jaw Arthritis

The jaw is prone to arthritis as is any other joint in the body. The wear and tear accumulates over time and causes pain and difficulty chewing.

Symptoms

Right sided (or left) jaw pain, swelling and difficulty chewing are common.
People often report swelling as well.

Treatments

Eating soft foods during periods of flare up can help.
OTC pain relievers and prescription muscle relaxants can alleviate symptoms.
Seeing a specialist to discuss more advanced options such as steroid injections or surgery is an option for severe and chronic cases.

5. Dental Problems

Dental problems are a frequent cause of right sided jaw pain. A variety of conditions can result in pain, swelling and difficulty chewing.

Symptoms

Dental infections can result in severe right sided jaw pain and swelling.
Tooth fracture can occur from trauma or excessive clenching.
Food trapped between teeth can inflame the gums and cause right sided jaw pain.

Treatments

The best option is to see a dentist for expert evaluation and treatment. Your dentist will determine if antibiotics are needed, recommend pain medication, possible take an x-ray and perform any necessary treatments.

6. Trigeminal Neuralgia

This condition is also known as tic douloureux and is caused by inflammation, irritation or trauma to the facial nerve.

Symptoms

Lancinating, sharp or shock like pains in the right side of the jaw, face or head are often debilitation.
During attacks, even a breeze blowing against the face can aggravate symptoms.

Treatments

Pain relief is of paramount importance and includes a combination of OTC pain relievers, narcotics, antidepressants and anti-seizure medications.
Unresponsive cases are referred to surgical specialists for decompression of the affected nerve.

7. Sinus Problems

Sinus infections frequently cause jaw pain. The maxillary sinuses lie just above the upper teeth and an infection here can result in right sided jaw pain.

Symptoms

In addition to jaw pain, facial fullness, congestion and colored sinus drainage are present.
Occasionally blood tinged mucus drains from the sinuses.

Treatments

OTC cold and decongestants such as Sudafed can help.
Saline spray and irrigation inside the nose can help clear sinus passages.
Prescription corticosteroid spray also helps reduce swelling and facilitate drainage.
Surgery may be required for cases unresponsive to conventional treatment.

8. Other Causes

The discussion above covers the most common causes of jaw pain, but you should understand that nail biting, thumb sucking and chewing on objects can harm the jaw structures and cause right sided jaw pain. Symptoms may be mild or progress to severe debilitating pain.

Mild pain can be treated with common sense, eating soft foods and taking OTC analgesics. Persistent or recurring pain indicates a more serious condition may be developing and seeing a dentist is the best advice.

Jaw pain accompanied by chest discomfort, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath may indicate a heart attack and emergency medical attention is required.

Watch a video for jaw pain relief:

 
 
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