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FAQ:  Jaw Pain

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Jaw Pain Ask The Dentist Corinne Scalzitti Question:
Four weeks ago, I had a the first steps for a crown on lower right jaw, second tooth from back.

The dentist injected anesthetic and waited for numbness, which never came. So, he injected again, ground the tooth, and put on temporary crown. After 3 days, my jaw on the crown side started becoming very tight, to the point that I cannot open my mouth.

It feels like the tendon is really tight. Not only is it painful and difficult to eat, but I simple cannot open my mouth more than abotu 1/2 inch.

Since then I've eaten soft foods, avoided stretching the jaw, heat on side of mouth, and went on antibiotics as precaution. It's hard to put a thin crust pizza slice in my mouth. What happened? ...Visitor from TX

You could have had a hematoma from the injection (needle passes near or through a blood vessel and it bleeds into the area around it causing pain, swelling, and decreased ability to open).

Antibiotics and heat are the treatment of choice, as you did.

Or, the temporary crown could be high and hitting before the other teeth and causing TMJ problems. I would think that the problems from a hematoma should have resolved by now, so I suspect that TMJ is the problem.

I have treated these problems with a removable device that doesn't allow you to stress your muscles, but you probably need a muscle relaxant now to open at all.

Corinne Scalzitti, DMD, MAGD

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