What is the Reason for Jaw Pain?

Patients who suffer from excruciating jaw pain, often find that daily tasks are increasingly difficult to complete than expected. Simple tasks such as eating and speaking can cause pain and make it quite challenging to focus. Those who experience jaw pain may find it hard to open their mouth. The pain can even radiate into other areas of the face and head, resulting in headaches.

Causes of Jaw Pain

There a connection between everything in and around the mouth. Various things can cause jaw pain and it may not be due to the jaw at all. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a common cause of jaw pain. TMJ may be the result of trauma, grinding of the teeth or bruxism, arthritis, or simply a genetic tendency. Some of the other common causes for jaw pain include the following:

  • Anxiety or high levels of stress
  • Bad alignment of the teeth or jaw
  • Cysts or tumors
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Wisdom teeth which are impacted


The most obvious symptom jaw pain is persistent and throbbing pain in or around the jaw. Minor jaw pain often fades and should not cause concern. If the throbbing pain persists for more than a day or two, patients should follow up with their dentist.

The location of the jaw pain often varies based on the cause. Jaw pain may be present on just the right or left side of the face. Jaw pain which is localized is more common after a tooth extraction on that side, from tooth decay, or when the wisdom teeth are impacted.

Kaw pain may also spread to the ears, resulting in inflammation or additional pain. In some cases, jaw pain spreads downwards to the neck. When there is inflammation around the neck and face, it can make simple things such as turning the head quite uncomfortable.

When the jaw pops or clicks, or if the pain exists near where the jawbone connects to the skull, below the cheekbone and near the temples, it might suggest the patient has TMJ disorder. Patients should follow up with their dentist to determine the cause. Additional symptoms which often accompany jaw pain may include:

  • Challenges with chewing, eating, or talking
  • Fever
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Swelling of the face, earaches, and headaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes


In some cases, jaw pain resolves itself with a bit of rest and time. Minor jaw pain can also be alleviated with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen.


Jaw pain which is chronic and stress induced, can often be managed through the introduction of calming techniques and focusing on reducing stress. Minimizing the consumption of caffeine can also be helpful.


When jaw pain is sudden and occurs from an injury, patients can often reduce the discomfort through the application of moist heat and ice.


If a patient experiences jaw pain which lasts for more than a day or two, they should follow up with their dentist. Jaw pain should always be taken seriously as it can indicate a serious issue. The dentist can aid in identifying the cause of the jaw pain and working with you to find the proper treatment.

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