Many people suffer from jaw pain caused by problems with the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, a joint located near your ear that allows your lower jaw to function. While there's not much evidence that specifically links jaw pain with a vitamin D deficiency, research has shown that low levels of vitamin D can contribute to pain all over your body. Vitamin D supplementation may provide benefits for pain relief for people with a vitamin D deficiency. Consult your doctor before using vitamin supplements.
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Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for maintaining the health of your bones and teeth. Often referred to as the "sunshine" vitamin, your body produces vitamin D in response to exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Vitamin D is also naturally present in dietary sources like salmon, tuna, fortified breakfast cereals, milk and orange juice. Despite its natural production by your body and availability in many foods, vitamin D deficiency can occur for a variety of reasons. The Office of Dietary Supplements reports that vitamin D deficiency, also referred to as hypovitaminosis D, is usually due to a lack of exposure to sunlight, low intake from dietary sources, malabsorption problems or a kidney malfunction, in which your kidneys do not convert the vitamin to its active form. In children, vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, a condition causing soft bones and dental deformities. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can cause osteomalacia, a condition causing soft bones and widespread bone pain.
Causes of Jaw Pain
Symptoms of jaw pain can extend beyond your jaw. You may also experience concurrent headaches, stiffness or a clicking noise when you move your jaw. However, jaw pain often doesn't have an easily identifiable cause. Many times, jaw pain is the result of grinding your teeth or unconsciously clenching your jaw, especially during sleep. Disorders of the temporomandibular joint may occur due to arthritis, injuries or erosion of the disk between the joints that normally helps to absorb shock.
Not much clinical research has examined the specific effects of a vitamin D deficiency on jaw pain. In "Evaluating TMJ Injuries, Volume 1," dentist and TMJ expert Reda A. Abdel-Fattah reports that a vitamin D deficiency can cause a predisposition to TMJ disorders. Additionally, a vitamin D deficiency has been linked to chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain, according to research published in the December 2003 issue of the "Mayo Clinic Proceedings." Vitamin D supplementation may help to alleviate many types of bone and joint pain. However, more research is needed to determine the specific benefits of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of jaw pain.
Do not attempt to self-diagnose any nutritional deficiencies you think you may have. While vitamin D supplementation may help symptoms of jaw pain, there's not enough clinical research to fully support its benefits. If you suffer from chronic jaw pain, see a dentist. A number of treatments can help your symptoms. Inform your doctor if you choose to use a vitamin D supplement.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- McKinley Health Center: Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
- "Evaluating TMJ Injuries, Volume 1"; Reda A. Abdel-Fattah; 1992