Jaw Pain Treatment in Singapore

Seek help for jaw pain

Are You Suffering from Jaw Pain?

Are you experiencing intense, sharp, ‘hot’, ‘poking’ or electric-shock like pain in your jaws? Or perhaps the pain is consistent, dull, throbbing or sore? Maybe your TMJs (temporomandibular joints) feel stiff, and you have difficulty opening or closing your mouth. The pain may even be spreading from your jaws, to your head, face, neck, shoulders and chest.

Many patients visit our clinic in Singapore for jaw pain treatment, and you may be surprised at how varied the causes of jaw pain can be. It is important that you do not self-diagnose, and seek help from a trained orofacial pain specialist / jaw pain specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

*Disclaimer: Any reference to the terms ‘Orofacial Pain’ and ‘Oral Medicine’ are made within the context of the USA and not Singapore. Please refer to our Disclaimers and FAQ pages for more information.

Seek help for jaw pain - Are you suffering from jaw pain?

A list of possible causes that can contribute to jaw pain

Common Causes & Symptoms of Jaw Pain

Jaw pain can stem from any part of your oral cavity – from the teeth to the gums, joints, facial muscles and elsewhere. The causes are just as varied, with some of the more common ones listed below.

A list of possible causes that can contribute to jaw pain - Common Causes and Symptoms of Jaw Pain

TMJ Disorders / TMD

TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders) is an umbrella term for more than 30 different types of TMJ disorders. It is vital to see a trained orofacial pain specialist to get a proper diagnosis and jaw pain treatment in such instances.

Visit our TMJ Disorder Treatment page for more information, if you think that you have a TMJ disorder.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism can be induced by stress, medication side effects, sleep apnoea and more. Grinding, clenching or gnashing your teeth can affect your TMJs and facial muscles, which results in jaw pain.

Bruxism can affect your quality of sleep and apart from jaw pain, it can also cause headaches, teeth fractures, earaches, and give rise to other TMJ disorders. Depending on how a person grinds their teeth, the pain may manifest differently as well.

Trauma

Trauma to the jaw usually results from injury due to impact, or a jaw dislocation. Your jaw bone may be broken, which would require immediate medical attention.

Trauma to the jaw can also occur after a surgical procedure, in which case it is best to work with your surgeon or an Orofacial Pain Specialist / jaw pain specialist in order to manage and treat the pain.

Arthritis & Autoimmune Diseases

Arthritis and autoimmune conditions such as Lupus and Sjögren’s Syndrome can cause inflammation or joint aches in your jaws, which can also lead to jaw pain.

Infections

Many different types of infections can cause jaw pain, such as Osteomyelitis, Sinusitis and Tetanus (lockjaw). Such infections can affect the teeth, gums, sinuses, bones or glands that surround your face, and lead to jaw pain.

It is best to get it checked by a jaw pain dentist as soon as possible should you suspect an infection, as early intervention usually results in better treatment results.

Periodontal / Gum Disease

Periodontal disease affects the gums and the tissue surrounding them, which can lead to jaw pain. Possible causes include inflammation, an infection, and poor dental hygiene can be a contributing factor as well.

Head & Neck Cancers

Cancers in the the head and neck region can affect your oral cavity, throat, voice box, paranasal sinuses, nasal cavity and salivary glands. Any of these affected areas can lead to jaw pain, as the anatomy in the orofacial region is intricately linked.

Heart Attack

A heart attack is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Male and female patients experience heart attacks differently, so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Heart attacks do not always present as sudden pain; it can also manifest as pain in the head, neck, face, shoulder, chest and jaws.

Nerve Pain

Nerve conditions such as Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) and Shingles, or TMJ nerve damage can also trigger pain in the jaws and orofacial region.

Sometimes TN can be idiopathic in nature, meaning that no immediate abnormalities can be found on clinical scans or physical examinations.

Read a case study on Idiopathic Trigeminal Neuralgia which we treated at our clinic here. We have also been seeing a rise in cases for ITN after dental work at our clinic.

Muscle Spasms & Muscle Pain

Trismus is a condition where your muscles surrounding your TMJs spasm, and can trigger jaw pain. Trismus can occur for many medical reasons, such as from inflammatory conditions, infections or trauma. Muscle spasms can also be due to other reasons, such as a neurological condition, cancer, TMD and more.

Sinus Problems

Sinus issues can cause difficulty breathing, nasal congestion like a runny or stuffy nose, facial pain or pressure, headache, and jaw pain.

Stress

Stress is more of a trigger that could give rise to many of the conditions listed here, such as Bruxism and TMJ Disorders.

In people with autoimmune diseases, stress in itself is a big trigger for pain flares that affect various body parts and organs.

How TMJ dysfunctions can contribute to jaw pain - TMJ Disorders and Jaw Pain Treatment

How TMJ dysfunctions can contribute to jaw pain

TMJ Disorders & Jaw Pain Treatment

TMD / TMJ Disorders are a major cause of jaw pain, and manifests in different ways for every individual. The most typical symptom of TMJ disorders is a locked jaw which tends to worsen whilst chewing or opening your mouth wide.

TMD can also affect the anatomy around the orofacial region. We have seen many cases at our clinic where patients think they have a toothache, headache, earache or jaw pain, when in fact the pain is from a TMJ Disorder.

Visit our TMJ Disorder Treatment page for more help and information.

Jaw pain treatment for ‘closed lock’ and ‘open lock’

TMJ Jaw Dislocation & Locked Jaw Treatment

Jaw pain treatment for 'closed lock' and 'open lock' - TMJ Jaw Dislocation and Locked Jaw Treatment

TMJ Locked Jaw Treatment (aka "Closed Lock")

At Nourish Dental Sleep & TMJ Care, we have seen many cases of patients with TMJ Locked Jaw, also known as “Closed Lock”. The jaw is usually able to open about 45 – 50mm, but patients with TMJ Locked Jaw can only open ≤ 30 mm of their jaw, with deflection to the affected side.

TMJ Locked Jaw can happen due to many of the reasons listed above, such as bruxism, trauma, arthritis and stress. Patients may or may not experience pain, but if they do, it is usually a sharp pain from jaw movement, or a dull, throbbing pain if inflammation has set in.

There are various stages of progression for TMJ Locked Jaw, and it can be an acute or chronic condition, which is important to distinguish as jaw pain treatment options differ for each.

Read a case study on TMJ locked jaw treatment at our clinic.

TMJ Jaw Dislocation Treatment (aka "Open Lock")

TMJ jaw dislocation, also known as “Open Lock”, can happen even from simple, everyday actions such as yawning, laughing or eating. An Open Lock is considerably rarer than a Closed Lock, and can be a frightening experience for the patient, as they cannot close their mouths or move their jaws, in addition to the pain.

There are various contributing factors to TMJ Jaw Dislocation, such as age, medications, systemic conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease, or hypermobility and muscular disorders such as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Dystonia.

TMJ jaw dislocations can be acute or chronic in nature as well. Pain can occur elsewhere in the orofacial region in acute TMJ Jaw Dislocation, and the patient’s jaw may be slanted. There may not be as much pain in chronic TMJ Jaw Dislocation, but it can be more problematic in the long-term. It is best to seek help from a trained Orofacial Pain Specialist in either case.

Read a case study on TMJ jaw dislocation that we treated at our clinic.

Is your jaw pain in a specific spot, or spread out?

Diffused vs Localised Jaw Pain

The orofacial region is composed of the oral cavity (teeth, gingiva, and oral mucosa), face, jaw bone, and temporomandibular joint. Whilst relatively ‘small’ compared to other body parts, the anatomy is complex and all intricately linked. Pain or problems in one part can trigger issues in other areas of the orofacial region.

Jaw Pain that Spreads to Your Head, Face, Neck, Shoulders and Even Ears

Jaw Pain that Spreads to Your Head, Face, Neck, Shoulders & Even Ears

According to Scully and Felix (2006), some of the referred causes of orofacial pain come from the neck, heart, lungs, oesophagus, eyes, ears, pharynx (throat), and can also be caused by rare disorders such as Eagle’s Syndrome.

You might also be surprised, but it is not uncommon to experience ear pain or Tinnitus as a symptom of TMJ Disorders. In fact, almost 80% of TMD patients report having pain or problems in their ears (Tuz et al., 2003). The earache may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, hearing loss, a feeling of pressure in the ears, and jaw pain. Our clinic is equipped with otoscopic (ear scope) facilities to conduct physical examinations in such cases.

You can read the following case studies of patients we treated at our clinic:

Jaw Pain on One or Both Sides of the Face

Jaw Pain on One or Both Sides of the Face

Jaw pain on one or both sides of the face can be caused by TMJ Disorders, and also other medical or dental conditions, such as: Trigeminal Neuralgia, an abscessed tooth, inflammation from chronic conditions, Bruxism, muscle spasms, and even stress.

Pain in the orofacial region can greatly impact a person’s quality of life, so it is best to consult an Orofacial Pain Specialist in order to obtain a proper diagnosis, treatment and pain management plan.

For more help and information, visit the following pages on our site:

Is your jaw pain sudden, or persistent?

Acute vs Chronic Jaw Pain

Jaw pain falls on a spectrum from mild to severe, and acute to chronic. This is important to note as the treatment approach will differ for acute versus chronic jaw pain. Whether it is a serious medical condition or not requires clinical and physical examination by a health professional or Orofacial Pain Specialist.

Possible Causes for Acute Jaw Pain

Possible Causes for Acute Jaw Pain

Some obvious reasons for sudden jaw pain could be trauma or impact to the jaw, which can lead to jaw fractures or facial nerve pain. Another less obvious but serious reason could be a heart attack. In such scenarios, it is imperative that you seek professional help immediately as it is considered a medical emergency.

Sudden jaw pain can also be due to a wide variety of medical conditions, such as Neuralgia (nerve pain), which includes Trigeminal Neuralgia, Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia, Post-Herpetic Neuralgia, Atypical Odontalgia, etc. Diabetic patients can also develop facial neuralgias.

Other causes include, but are not limited to: inflammatory conditions, TMJ disorders, migraine, headaches, Burning Mouth Syndrome, allodynia, and more.

Possible Causes for Chronic Jaw Pain

Possible Causes for Chronic Jaw Pain

Chronic jaw pain is often due to TMJ dysfunctions, Myofascial Pain, Bruxism, inflammatory conditions, with stress as a contributing factor as well.

Whilst there may not be as much pain in chronic jaw pain as compared to acute jaw pain, the problems can compound and become harder to treat and manage in the long run. Thus, it is essential to seek help from an Orofacial Pain Specialist as soon as you can, regardless of the pain level.

Jaw pain can also lead to headaches, and vice versa. There are many causes of head pain itself, including migraine disorders and TMJ disorders, all of which can trigger jaw pain as they all fall within the orofacial region.

For more insight, you can read a case study of a patient who had TMD and Cervicogenic headaches that we diagnosed and treated at our clinic, and another case study of one of our patients who had Facial Migraine.

Some of the common options for jaw pain relief & jaw pain management

Jaw Pain Relief & Jaw Pain Treatment Options

Depending on the root cause of the jaw pain and the affected areas, there are a few different jaw pain treatment and pain management options, with some of the more common ones listed below. It is best to seek help from a trained Orofacial Pain Specialist, as these are not the only mouth and jaw pain treatment options available. Based on your diagnosis, they will be able to work together with you to come up with a pain management and treatment plan that’s most suited to your pain and needs.

Some of the common options for jaw pain relief and jaw pain management - Jaw Pain Relief and Jaw Pain Treatment Options

Medications & Pharmacological Agents

Bacterial infections can usually be treated with antibiotics, especially if you seek treatment in the early stages.

The aetiology of TMD / TMJ disorders is multifactorial and complex, so the pharmacological agents used, if at all, will greatly depend on your diagnosis. Some of the pharmacological agents used to manage TMD include, but are not limited to: hyaluronic acid injections, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants (Ouanounou et al., 2017). 

Surgery

If your jaw pain is from a fracture, trauma or cancer, then surgery may be needed to correct the issue. Otherwise, it is usually best to try other pain management strategies first, in cases such as TMD. (Read: Treatment Of Orofacial Pain And TMD – Greatest Red Flags To Watch Out For)

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help to provide pain relief for jaw pain, by targeting and relaxing the affected muscles or areas that are triggering the pain. We offer holistic therapies at Nourish Dental Sleep & TMJ Care, including physical therapy for jaw pain treatment.

Heat or Cold Therapy

Using heat packs or ice packs can provide some relief for jaw pain, but it also depends on the root cause of the pain. Heat or cold can aggravate certain medical conditions, so it is best to consult a jaw pain dentist first, to see if certain self-management techniques for jaw pain relief are suitable for you.

Oral Appliances or Mouthguards

If a TMD / TMJ disorder is suspected, a mouthguard may be introduced to help manage the pain. A mouthguard is worn on a daily basis to protect your teeth when you grind them, and thus reduces the stress and pain caused to the surrounding areas.

Lifestyle Changes

Eating softer foods and practising good oral hygiene are some examples that could help manage jaw pain issues.

A brief overview of Oral Medicine & Orofacial Pain

How an Oral Medicine & Orofacial Pain Specialist Can Help with Jaw Pain Relief

A brief overview of Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain - How An Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Specialist Can Help With Jaw Pain Relief

What Does an Orofacial Pain Specialist Do?

As stated on the AAOP’s (American Academy of Orofacial Pain) website:

“Orofacial Pain is the specialty of dentistry that encompasses the diagnosis, management and treatment of pain disorders of the jaw, mouth, face, head and neck.”

Orofacial Pain is the 12th ADA recognised dental speciality. In order to earn their accreditation, a TMJ doctor or orofacial pain specialist has to be a Fellow of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain (AAOP), or complete a formal advanced training education in Orofacial Pain that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), or has passed the American Board of Orofacial Pain (ABOP) Certification Examination. They also need to demonstrate clear understanding of orofacial pain through graduate or post graduate training, research or clinical experience.

This rigorous training grants them insight into pharmacology, oral medicine, and other orofacial pain treatment options that are not typically used in general dentistry. This means that a trained orofacial pain specialist has a greater understanding of pain and disease, and how they may affect the orofacial region to cause jaw pain.

Often, pain in the jaw does not mean that there is a problem with your jaws in itself, and the added knowledge that a trained orofacial pain specialist has can help with proper diagnosis and treatment for jaw pain.

What Does a Health Practitioner Trained in Oral Medicine Do?

Oral Medicine is the 11th ADA (American Dental Association) recognised dental specialty. According to The American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM), Oral Medicine is defined as:

“The specialty of dentistry responsible for the oral health care of medically complex patients and for the diagnosis and management of medically related disorders or conditions affecting the oral and maxillofacial region.”

Health or dental practitioners who are trained in Oral Medicine have added insight into yet more medical conditions that may be linked to orofacial pain and jaw pain. This knowledge can be especially useful when diagnosing and managing medically complex patients, many of whom go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years.

Certified Oral Medicine doctors are also trained in oral pathology and oral radiology, and may order and interpret such test results. They may also perform specialised medical procedures that are related to oral healthcare, such as jaw pain. You can view a full list of medical conditions that Oral Medicine covers here.

Learn more about Orofacial Pain & Oral Medicine here.

Our focus at Nourish Dental Sleep & TMJ Care, Singapore

How We Can Help with Jaw Pain Treatment

Dr. Eric Chionh Chye Kiat runs the practice at Nourish Dental Sleep & TMJ Care in Singapore, together with a committed, patient-centric team. He has over 20 years of hands-on experience in mouth and jaw pain treatment, and has a special interest in TMJ disorders, pain management, and sleep medicine, which includes sleep apnoea. He aims to improve his patients’ quality of life using evidence-based medicine, and keeps himself updated with the latest scientific and dental literature.

On top of being a Fellow of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain (AAOP), Dr. Chionh is also an Academic Fellow of the American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM), and holds a Singapore Dental Council approved qualification in these areas. He is also a *qualified sleep dentist under the European Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

Learn more about Dr. Eric Chionh on our About page, and view all services provided by Nourish Dental Sleep & TMJ Care here.

For more information or for other TMJ, pain and sleep dentistry treatments, visit these pages:

TMJ Disorder Treatment
Orofacial Pain Treatment
Pain & Sleep Dentistry
Sleep Apnoea Treatment

*Disclaimer: Any reference to the terms ‘Orofacial Pain, ‘Oral Medicine’ and ‘Fellowship(s)’ are made within the context of the USA and not Singapore. The designation of ‘qualified sleep dentist’ is only used in the sole context of the European Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, an organisation founded and governed by university and hospital-based practitioners which sets the standards of competency in the practice of Dental Sleep Medicine across Europe; dental sleep medicine is not an established dental specialty in Singapore. Please refer to our Disclaimers and FAQ pages for more information.

Common questions & answers on jaw pain treatment

Jaw Pain Treatment FAQs

You can see a doctor or jaw pain dentist for an initial assessment should you have jaw pain, and are in need of pain relief. These healthcare practitioners can conduct physical examinations, and help to narrow down the causes, such as if it’s from a tooth infection, inflammation or something more generic.

They should refer you to an Orofacial Pain Specialist thereafter for further assessment and follow-up care, especially if no dental pathologies or immediate abnormalities can be found. Irreversible procedures should be held off until a proper diagnosis can be made, as doing so can lead to further problems down the road.

Read this post for some red flags to watch out for, in regards to Orofacial Pain and TMD treatment.

As mentioned above, Orofacial Pain Specialists need to undergo additional training on top of general dentistry to expand their scope of clinical knowledge, especially in relation to pain disorders of the jaw, mouth, face, head and neck.

The formal clinical training that Orofacial Pain Specialists undergo are known as ‘residencies’ in the USA, and comprises of many rigorous examinations before one can gain their accreditation and practice orofacial pain treatment in their clinic.

Read this post for more information about Orofacial Pain and Oral Medicine.

One cause of jaw pain that can feel like electric shocks is Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), of which there are three different types – Type 1 (Classical) and Type 2 (Secondary), and Idiopathic Trigeminal Neuralgia. We have seen and diagnosed all three types at our clinic. Idiopathic Trigeminal Neuralgia can be trickier to diagnose, as no abnormalities can be seen on MRI or electrophysiological tests. We have also observed a rise in cases of Idiopathic Trigeminal Neuralgia after dental work at our clinic.

Apart from Trigeminal Neuralgia, there are also other health conditions that can cause electric shock-like pain in the jaws or orofacial region, such as: tumours, aneurysms, vascular malformations, Multiple Sclerosis and Connective Vascular Diseases.

Visit our Orofacial Pain Treatment page for more information.

It can be tricky to pinpoint the cause of the jaw pain with autoimmune conditions, as they often come with comorbidities, and can affect several body parts simultaneously. It is, however, not uncommon to experience jaw pain with chronic conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), due to inflammation or joint aches.

As mentioned above, health and dental practitioners who are accredited in Oral Medicine are trained to diagnose and manage medically complex patients in relation to the oral and maxillofacial region. 

It is best to work with both your Rheumatologist and a trained Oral Medicine / Orofacial Pain Specialist in order to manage and treat jaw pain that stems from such medical conditions.

Click here for more information on how an Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Specialist can help.

You may sometimes hear crunching or clicking sounds on either side of your jaws if you have a TMJ Disorder. This can also be accompanied by ‘weird’ sensations that may manifest as ‘electric shocks’, general soreness, muscle spasms or some other form of pain.

Even if your jaws are not in pain, it is best to visit a trained Orofacial Pain Specialist to get it checked, as it may be a chronic condition that can deteriorate over time if not treated and managed properly.

For more information, visit our TMJ Disorder Treatment and Orofacial Pain Treatment pages.

It is best to seek help from a trained Orofacial Pain Specialist should you have a locked jaw, or any other problems with opening or closing your mouth. There are certain jaw-unlocking procedures they can do to help free the joint. Do not attempt to manipulate your jaw back into position on your own, as this can lead to further damage of the jaw joints.

You can read a case study of TMJ Locked Jaw and TMJ Jaw Dislocation (Open Lock), which we treated at our clinic.

It is best to first visit a trained Orofacial Pain Specialist to assess your condition and get a proper diagnosis, to see if a mouthguard is suitable for managing your jaw pain. There are also different kinds of oral appliances which are used for different purposes.

If deemed suitable, they will make models of your teeth, which are then used to craft your oral appliance. This is custom-made to fit your mouth specifically, in order to prevent jaw damage and to manage your pain.

You can read more about oral appliances here, and visit our TMJ Disorder Treatment page for more information.

Dr. Erich Chionh Chye Kiat helms Nourish Dental Sleep & TMJ Care in Singapore, and takes a special interest in TMD, sleep apnoea, pain management, and orofacial pain treatment.

He is formally trained in both Orofacial Pain and Oral Medicine, and also holds a Singapore Dental Council approved qualification in these areas.

He is passionate about keeping himself updated with the latest dental and scientific literature, in order to improve his patients’ quality of life. He believes in working together with his patients as a team, and takes the time to listen to their concerns, answer any questions they may have, and discuss possible treatment options to set their minds at ease.

You can find Dr. Chionh’s full list of credentials on our About page, and read more about Nourish Dental Sleep & TMJ Care on our blog.

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