Trigeminal neuralgia, or tic douloureux, is an intensely painful disorder of the trigeminal nerve that causes sharp, stabbing episodes of pain in most areas of the face, including the right or left, jaw. The pain is usually felt on one side, but sometimes on both. The Trigeminal Neuralgia Association describes this disorder as the most painful and agonizing medical condition known, saying it is sometimes referred to as "the suicide disease." It is considered to be rare, occurring in fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. It is more common in those over 50 years of age.
The pain of trigeminal neuralgia comes in brief, stabbing flashes during episodes that may last for days or months, then resolve for months or years, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Attacks are associated with triggers that apply any pressure to trigeminal nerve. Normal daily activities like brushing the teeth, and hair may set off an episode. Sometimes talking, eating, or even a gust of wind on the face will be enough to cause pain. A variety of medications are used for treatment. Several surgical options are also available.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
Temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMJ disorders, are a common cause for pain in the jaw. The condition arises from a problem in the joint connecting the jaw to the skull, or with the muscles used for chewing. The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is susceptible to damage from various causes including arthritis, teeth grinding, or misalignment of the teeth. Merck Manuals Medical Library says that even frequent gum chewing can result in damage to the TMJ. Pain in in the jaw near the TMJ can also come from persistent clenching of the jaw, and cheek muscles. TMJ disorders may be difficult to diagnose, as they mimic several other conditions. Pain worsened by finger pressure on the joint when the mouth is open, generally indicates a problem with the TMJ.
Inflammation of the sinuses due to allergies, viruses, fungi, or bacteria can result in jaw, and facial pain. The Cleveland Clinic describes sinusitis as a very common condition, affecting about 40 million Americans annually. Sinusitis often follows symptoms of a cold, or other respiratory infection. The precise location of pain caused by this condition depends upon which sinus cavities are involved. Inflammation or infection in the right maxillary sinus of the cheek bone sometimes produces pain in the right jaw, and upper teeth.