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Dr. Davidson
Dr. Davidson, Board Certified Physician
Category: Medical
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Experience:  Board Certified Specialist in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
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sudden, severe pain in the left lower jaw, in back to mid line

Resolved Question:

sudden, severe pain in the left lower jaw, in back to mid line of jaw.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Davidson replied 4 years ago.
Hi there, and thanks for your question. Jaw pain may arise from either of the two bones that hold the teeth in the jaw — the maxilla (upper jaw) and the mandible (lower jaw). Jaw pain also includes pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), where the mandible meets the temporal bone. (See Associated disorder: Temporomandibular joint disorders.)

Jaw pain may develop gradually or abruptly and may range from barely noticeable to excruciating, depending on its cause. It usually results from disorders of the teeth, soft tissue, or glands of the mouth or throat or from local trauma or infection. Systemic causes include musculoskeletal, neurologic, cardiovascular, hormone-related, immune system disorders, and infections. Life-threatening disorders, such as myocardial infarction (MI) and tetany, also produce jaw pain, as do certain drugs (especially phenothiazines) and dental or surgical procedures.

Jaw pain is seldom a primary indicator of any one disorder; however, some causes are medical emergencies.

Emergency Actions

Sudden severe jaw pain, especially when associated with chest pain, shortness of breath, or arm pain, requires prompt evaluation because it may herald a life-threatening disorder. Physicians would need to perform an electrocardiogram and obtain blood samples for heart enzyme levels.

There are other causes as well, including:

Ludwig’s angina is an acute streptococcal infection of the sublingual and submandibular spaces that produces severe jaw pain in the mandibular area with tongue elevation, sublingual edema, and drooling. Fever is a common sign. Progressive disease produces dysphagia, dysphonia, and stridor and dyspnea due to laryngeal edema and obstruction by an elevated tongue.

Temporal arteritis produces sharp jaw pain after chewing or talking. Nonspecific signs and symptoms include low-grade fever, generalized muscle pain, malaise, fatigue, anorexia, and weight loss. Vascular lesions produce jaw pain; throbbing, unilateral headache in the frontotemporal region; swollen, nodular, tender and, possibly, pulseless temporal arteries; and, at times, erythema of the overlying skin.

Trigeminal neuralgia is marked by paroxysmal attacks of intense unilateral jaw pain (stopping at the facial midline) or rapid-fire shooting sensations in one division of the trigeminal nerve (usually the mandibular or maxillary division). This superficial pain, felt mainly over the lips and chin and in the teeth, lasts from 1 to 15 minutes. Mouth and nose areas may be hypersensitive. Involvement of the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve causes a diminished or absent corneal reflex on the same side. Attacks can be triggered by mild stimulation of the nerve (for example, lightly touching the cheeks), exposure to heat or cold, or consumption of hot or cold foods or beverages.

I would review these options, and discuss your symptoms with your physician. Since no dental work has been done, and there's no fever, it makes an infection less likely. I wish you well. Regards, XXXXX XXXXX
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I was just sitting at my computer, might have been touching my jaw--is it likely that the pain will subside fairly soon then if just in the nerve?
Expert:  Dr. Davidson replied 4 years ago.
Yes, it is likely, and in that case it might be related to your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Abnormalities of these jaw joints can cause significant pain, and based on your history and symptoms, this could be the cause. If the pain persists, I would discuss your concerns with your physician. In the meantime, you can take Ibuprofen for the pain. Take care. Regards, XXXXX XXXXX
Dr. Davidson, Board Certified Physician
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 1056
Experience: Board Certified Specialist in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
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