Is It a Cavity or TMJ Pain?

tmj pain

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Any pain in your mouth can be an unpleasant experience, but sometimes, it’s hard to distinguish between TMJ pain and a regular toothache to find the correct cure for what ails you. Both types of pain originate in the same area of your body, and they have a lot of similarities. However, there are some key differences. Here’s what you need to know.

Do I Have a Cavity, or Should I Seek Help for TMJ?

TMJ pain is often associated with the jaw muscles and joints, whereas tooth pain can usually be traced to a specific tooth. Unfortunately, it’s not always that cut and dry. In some cases, cavity and TMJ pain can radiate outward, causing pain in other, seemingly unrelated areas, making it hard to tell where the pain is originating.

For example, an infected tooth may cause a throbbing sensation that extends toward your jaw joint and muscles.

To tell the difference between TMJ pain and pain from a cavity, you may need to look for other symptoms.

Signs of TMJ

If you have TMJ disorder, you’re likely to experience several other symptoms besides the TMJ pain itself. That can include headaches, earaches, neck pain, and even backaches. You may notice pain when you try to use your jaw joint to eat, yawn, cough, or sneeze, and you may find that your jaw starts ‘locking’ or decreasing in range of motion during certain situations.

Signs of a Cavity

If you have a cavity, you may also experience pain when you eat, but the pain will be felt more internally, towards the tooth and tongue, rather than the external jaw area. Additionally, with a toothache, you may see pus or irritation around the sensitive area containing the tooth – this can include your gums and possibly even your neck glands.

If you notice a persistent bad taste, or new odor coming from your mouth, you likely have a cavity or infected tooth.

These symptoms are generally unique to cavities, so if you experience them and nothing else, it’s a safe bet you just need a trip to the dentist to help regain your oral health.

Treatments for Cavities

There are some natural remedies for relieving cavity pain, including:

  • Clove oil
  • Cold compress
  • Garlic
  • Hydrogen peroxide rinse
  • Peppermint tea bags
  • Saltwater rinse
  • Thyme
  • Vanilla extract
  • A dentist

These at-home treatments might not work for everyone, and are really geared towards buying time free of pain until you can make your way to a dentist. The treatments listed above also have little to no effect towards the relief of TMJ pain, so if you use one of these remedies and experience pain relief, it’s pretty clear you are dealing with a cavity and not TMJ disorder.

TMJ Treatments

Although TMJ pain and cavity pain are caused by different health issues, you can alleviate your pain in similar ways. In both cases, try to give your mouth a break by minimizing eating. Keep hot and cold foods as well as sugary foods away from your cavity. To alleviate TMJ pain, go a step forward and focus on soft foods so that you don’t have to put as much effort into chewing. With both situations, placing a cold compress or an ice pack on the side of your face that is in pain can help. Over-the-counter painkillers can also help.

If these treatments don’t reduce the pain of TMJ disorder, you may want to see an oral surgeon. They can offer relief options that take into account the severity of your TMJ pain. While surgery may be needed in only the most extreme cases, Botox injections may be another, less-invasive solution.

Botox relieves jaw tension by making muscles unable to engage in the powerful, often the unconscious movement of the jaw that produces headaches and pain. When you opt for Botox injections for TMJ treatment the injections help relax the muscles around that joint. The injections reduce jaw tension, help you stop grinding your teeth, and virtually eliminate headaches related to TMJ disorder. The injection process is less invasive and more affordable than surgery. It’s also so fast and easy you can do it on your lunch hour.

Get Help with TMJ Treatment

A general dentist can help you with cavities by offering a filling, but if you have extensive cavities or even TMJ disorder, an oral surgeon has the specialized practice, training and knowledge to provide the best treatment to help you.

If you believe you have TMJ disorder and want relief, contact us by clicking the button below and choosing your nearest GAOFS office, or give us a call at (404) 649-5536 (Cumming, GA) or (404) 491-8943 (Atlanta) to schedule your consultation.

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