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Causes of Jaw Bone Pain

author image Martin Hughes
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.
Causes of Jaw Bone Pain
Many conditions can cause jaw bone pain. Photo Credit closeup of an attractive young woman with her chin resting on he image by David Smith from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Many conditions can cause jaw bone pain. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, some types of jaw bone pain can be caused by conditions outside the jaw bone, such as a heart attack. Most jaw bone pain, however, is caused by problems within or around the jawbone itself. The jaw bone, also known as the mandible, forms the lower portion of the jaw and keeps the lower teeth in place.


Osteomyelitis can cause jaw bone pain. According to the Cleveland Clinic--one of America's top hospitals--osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by numerous types of microbial agents. The most common cause of osteomyelitis is the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. The Cleveland Clinic states that osteomyelitis is a serious condition, as it can reduce blood flow to the involved bone. If the bone does not receive a sufficient supply of blood, its tissues can die. Osteomyelitis often affects long bones, such as the humerus or arm bone and the femur or thigh bone, although it can also affect the mandible. Common signs and symptoms associated with osteomyelitis include pain, swelling and warmth in the infected area, fever, nausea, irritability, lethargy and swelling in the ankles, feet and legs. According to the Cleveland Clinic, osteomyelitis occurs in about one in every 5,000 individuals.

Mandibular Fractures

Mandibular fractures, also known as a fractured jaw, can cause jaw bone pain. The Merck Manuals website states that a fractured jaw causes pain in the affected area and alters the way the upper and lower teeth contact each other. A fractured jaw usually impairs a person's ability to open his mouth wide, or it causes the jaw to shift to one side upon mouth opening or closing. According to the Merck Manuals website, blunt-force jaw trauma can also cause cervical spine or neck injuries, a concussion or bleeding inside the skull. Common signs and symptoms associated with mandibular fractures include bleeding from the mouth, facial bruising and swelling, jaw stiffness, jaw pain when chewing or biting, loose or chipped teeth, facial numbness and reduced temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, active range of motion. The Merck Manuals website states that many mandibular fractures require a period of jaw immobilization to assist healing and recovery.

Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess can cause jaw bone pain. According to the Mayo Clinic website, a tooth abscess is an accumulation of pus caused by a bacterial infection within a tooth. The most common cause of a tooth abscess is an untreated dental cavity, although a crack or chip in the tooth can also allow bacteria entry into the inner tooth. Common signs and symptoms associated with a tooth abscess include an excruciating, long-lasting toothache, an intolerance for hot or cold food and beverages, pain with chewing and biting, fever, facial swelling, tender lymph nodes in the neck or under the jaw and foul-tasting fluid suddenly appearing in the mouth. Possible risk factors for a tooth abscess include inadequate oral and dental hygiene, consuming too much refined sugar and any underlying health condition that compromises a person's immune system.

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