Pain that originates in one part of the body can sometimes appear to be coming from a completely different area. This is due to the way our nerves supply the different organs and so a pain in the jaw may have origins other than the teeth or the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
One of the most common areas affected during a cardiovascular incident or underlying cardiovascular pathology is the jaw. The lower jaw is affected much more than the upper jaw in such cases.
Consistent pain in the chest region along with the lower jaw should not be ignored. It may not always be due to a cardiovascular incident and can be caused by other factors, however, not knowing for sure it is not worth the risk.
Cause of chest pain and jaw pain
A decrease in the oxygenation of our heart muscles is perceived as discomfort by our body. This discomfort is then transmitted as pain along certain structures such as the arms, the jaws and even the back.
This lack of oxygenation could be because of anxiety and stress. In such cases, the person who is under stress starts hyperventilating causing a decrease in the blood flow back to the heart, almost like shock. This can cause fainting spells, panic attacks and a decrease in the oxygenation to the muscles of the body.
There is another simpler explanation that also turns out to be the cause in a lot of the people. The pain is muscular in origin. This could be due to a spasm in the back or the chest muscles, not related to underlying cardiovascular physiology.
The pain can also cause a person to clench their teeth, causing more pressure on the TMJ and this can lead to a dull pain in the jaws as well.
These symptoms can be confusing and frightening for people until the exact cause of the pain is ascertained.
A few useful, simple to perform, home tests can help you localize the origin of the pain.
Pain on physical exertion: If the pain in the chest and in the jaw increases or appears consistently after physical exertion, it is more than likely that the cause is cardiovascular in origin. Simple things like walking briskly or a short sprint are enough to be elicit symptoms.
Pain on chewing: Try chewing on a piece of gum for a while. People with weak jaw muscles will start having pain after a while. This points to an underlying joint problems which may or may not be related to your teeth's occlusion.
Pain on twisting or stretching: Muscular pain is easier to identify usually and can be confirmed by performing a few twisting exercises along with a few stretches that will cause pain if the muscles are injured.
Even if it the cause of pain is likely to be something other than cardiovascular, it would be prudent to get a complete physical. Mention your history of pain to your physician.
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