Jaw pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
woman with tooth pain due to cavity

Jaw pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Jaw pain is when patients experience aching pain in their jaw, face, or ear when attempting to close or open their mouth or chewing. Though anyone can have jaw pain, the condition primarily affects women aged 30 to 50 years. Having jaw pain does not necessarily require immediate medical attention. However, if the disorder’s symptoms concern you or you have sever jaw pain, seeking medical help is essential.

Symptoms can seriously impact your well-being when suffering from jaw pain. That’s why knowing how to solve the situation, whether you have it or not, is essential. If you’re already a patient of this condition, you might wonder what causes jaw pain and how to stop the pain or prevent the situation in the future.

What Causes Jaw Pain?

Jaw pain can result from many things, from the jaw itself or teeth to sinuses and ears. But an injury or abnormality to the jaw’s joint is the leading cause of jaw pain like jaw pain left side or pain on bottom jaw among many patients. There are many other jaw pain causes.

Heart Attack

Patients with a heart attack can experience pain in jaw, especially jaw pain left side and other areas of their body, including the neck and arms. Women, in particular, might encounter jaw pain on the right side of their face when they suffer a heart attack.

Temporomandibular Joint and Muscular Disorder or TMJ

TMJ, also called TMD, affects approximately 10 million Americans at any given time. Medical experts consider the condition among the common causes of pain in the jaw in the country. Several factors can cause pain in your temporomandibular joints (hinge joints on the sides of the jaw), including:

  • Injury to your jaw joint
  • Excess stimulation of your jaw joint
  • A displaced disc cushioning the movement of your jaw
  • And more!

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia happens when nerve compression happens on your trigeminal nerve (the never that offers a sensation to the portions of your face like the lower and upper jaw)

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches often cause pain around or behind one of your eyes. However, the pain can move to your jaw.

Sinus Problems and Sore Jaw

Sinusitis occurs due to an inflammation of the nasal cavities. When an inflammation occurs in your maxillary sinuses (sinus cavities behind the cheeks), you may feel jaw pain on the right side of the jaw and in other areas. Like a bacterium or a virus, a germ can infect the air-filled cavities or sinuses near your jaw joint. That can cause excess mucus production to exert more pressure on your jaw joint and cause a sore jaw and eventually pain.

Dental abscesses or severe tooth infections can cause pain on bottom jaw that moves to other parts of your face. The pain can radiate to your jaw as well.


Some types of arthritis like osteoarthritis can make that smooth interface between your jaw joints wear out and cause pain. Also, inflammatory conditions like synovitis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis can result in inflammation in many joints in your body. For instance, they can affect your jaw bone joint and cause pain to develop in your jaw.

Dental Conditions

When your jaw hurts, several dental conditions, including abscesses, tooth gaps, cavities, damaged teeth, and gum disease, can be the culprits behind your problem. These conditions can cause pain that spreads to other facial parts, including your jaws.

Wisdom teeth can also cause jaw pain. These teeth start growing in people aged between 15 to 24 years. If they cause unwanted pressure or shift teeth alignment in your jaw, they may cause pain.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding is one of the significant causes of jaw pain. Teeth grinding is a factor you can rarely notice since it mainly occurs while you’re asleep. But it can also happen when you’re awake. Therefore, if you have a habit of grinding your teeth while awake, ensure to stop it immediately when you notice yourself doing it as it’s a culprit that can cause your jaw pain.

Symptoms and Signs of Jaw Pain

Persistent, throbbing pain appears to be the most common sign of a prolonged jaw bone condition, whether in or around the jaw. If the pain persists, it’s advisable to seek medical help since it can cause other problems. Several things, including chewing too hard, can cause minor jaw pain. Changing lifestyle habits can help if your jaw hurts when chewing. Other factors can be the reason why your jaw hurts when chewing:

Discomfort or pain around or in your jaw joints, jaw muscles, neck, ears, or face

Jaw pain can cause a hearing problem, ear pain, and tinnitus. If you have one or more of these conditions, chances are higher you’re suffering from jaw pain.

Locking or limited movement of your jaw.

Jaw pain when opening mouth wide can result from your jaw locking in an extended-open position. If you experience jaw pain when opening mouth wide or when your jaw hursts when running , it can also dislocate your jaw joints. Dislocation of the jaw may make a patient open their mouth awkwardly or favor the painful side of their mouth, or make jaw hurts mainly when eating, chewing, or drinking.


You can experience headaches when that pain in your jaw lasts a few days and disappear or persists.

Painful clicking, grating, or clicking sounds

Mainly when your jaw joint is in motion. Hearing the popping or clicking sounds when your jaw joints move may be a sign of jaw pain. The sounds may mean the jaw bone disc is in an incorrect position. But many people often mistake jaw pain with an ear issue like an ear infection.

Ear issues like sensitivity to wind or noise or aches.

Difficult swallowing

Muscle spasms that arise cause jaw soreness. Jaw soreness can eventually cause jaw pain to make you experience difficulty swallowing.

Swelling of the face

Jaw pain can affect the jaw bone to cause pain in lower jaw. Your mouth or face may end up swelling and cause pain in lower jaw or the side of concern.

Vomiting and nausea

Lower jaw pain can cause dizziness and headaches and potentially lead to vomiting and nausea. You can experience the pain in jaw joint itself. However, it can migrate to the scalp, face, or other parts near your jaw and cause dizziness, headaches, and even signs of migraines.

Acute jaw pain signs and symptoms can last a few days or even weeks before disappearing after the cause of discomfort or injury has resolved. But ongoing symptoms of jaw pain can be a dull or sharp pain consistently occurring on one or both sides of your jaw joint.

Ho to Relieve Jaw Pain

For many patients, jaw muscle pain symptoms only last a few hours, or two to three days, at most. But for others, the condition can cause discomfort and pain of their facial muscles that is chronic, which can worsen more when grinding teeth, swallowing, or chewing. But whether your jaw hursts when running or you experience a minor pain that lasts only a few hours, chronic pain that lasts longer, or jaw pain when chewing, several options can help treat the condition.

Maintaining Your Jaw Resting Position and Correct Posture

Minimizing broad jaw movements like yawning, yelling, chewing, and singing can help you to alleviate jaw muscle pain. The goal is to ensure your muscles relax for as long as you can. Sever jaw pain can arise if you sit in an unsuitable position for long hours. If you have to maintain one place for an extended period or when working, ensure to sit in a comfy chair, especially one that supports your back. Make sure to take breaks several times while working. It will help improve your posture. Drivers should adjust their seats to achieve an upright position. While reading or watching TV, or while you’re doing other leisure activities, the place you choose to sit should allow you to maintain an upright position.

Avoid Certain Foods and Activities

Several factors can cause jaw pain when chewing. Some foods and activities can make a person open their mouth forcefully or force their jaw to move in an extreme, abnormal way. Some of the foods and activities to avoid when suffering from jaw pain include:

  • Chewing gum
  • Yelling or yawning
  • Foods that need prolonged chewing
  • Hard or crunchy foods

Exercise Your Jaw

Jaw exercises can help patients increase mobility in their jaw joints. The common jaw exercises you can use to relieve jaw pain are relaxation, stretch, strengthening exercises.

Meditation to Reduce Stress

Jaw pain can cause stress and depression. Meditation techniques can help relax or loosen your jaw. The idea is to include lifestyle routines on your to-do list that relax your face and calm your mind.

Self-Care Practices

Your doctor or dentist may recommend you adhere to several self-care practices to reduce or eliminate the pain. Some self-care practices you may require adhering to include:

  • Practice gentle jaw stretches
  • Eat soft foods
  • Apply ice packs
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements

Pain Medications

Over-the-counter pain-relieving medications can offer temporary relief if you have pain on the bottom jaw or in other areas of your face. Depending on your jaw pain causes, the doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory or more potent pain medications, antidepressants, or muscle relaxants. If your physician realizes teeth clenching and grinding cause your jaw cramp or pain condition, they may prescribe a muscle relaxant to help relax your jaw. Antidepressants also can help reduce stress and control or reduce pain.

Customized Mouthguard

Customized mouthguards can help with jaw cramp and pain. Experts can design mouthguards to help your jaw muscles lower loading forces to avoid further damaging your teeth or jaw joint.


Dentists can recommend maxillofacial or orthodontia surgery if a structural condition affects your jaw. Note that surgical treatment only becomes necessary when all the other treatment options fail to be effective.

When to Visit Your Doctor

Patients experiencing severe pain or pain that does not go away quickly should seek medical help. Your doctor will assess your condition and customize a treatment plan for you to improve jaw flexibility and strength.

TMJ Treatment Los Angeles

Persistent jaw pain can easily affect your daily routine. It can make you experience difficulty chewing, unrelenting discomfort, and limit what you comfortably eat regularly. Opening your mouth to laugh, yawn or even speak may not be comfortable when you have constant jaw pain. You don’t deserve the pain and anguish from severe jaw pain. At Westside Dental Associates, our dental experts can perform a physical assessment to determine the cause of your pain. We can customize a treatment plan to treat your pain bottom jaw once and forever.

Learn more about TMJ Treatment in Los Angeles 

We can customize a treatment plan for your condition depending on your unique needs. Whether you have lower jaw pain or experiencing pain in your upper jaw, we can help. Once our professional physicians assess your situation, they will create a treatment plan that fits your unique needs.

Find a Treatment Solution That Works

By calling Westside Dental Associates now, you can rest confident that a team of professionals will alleviate your painful TMJ symptoms. Contact us today for details about TMJ treatment Los Angeles, or schedule your appointment with our Los Angeles specialists to learn more about ho to relieve jaw pain.

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