Understanding Jaw Pain: Causes And Treatments

Dealing with jaw pain is no fun for anyone. Jaw pain is your body’s way of signaling that something needs attention. With the right diagnosis and care from your dentist and doctor, there are effective solutions out there to tackle jaw pain.  

So what typically leads to that dull, throbbing, or sharp pain in your jaw area? There are a few typical suspects:

Understanding Jaw Pain


Problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are probably the most common issues leading to jaw pain. This is the hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. Issues with the joint itself or the surrounding muscles and ligaments can lead to pain in front of your ear, clicking noises when you open your mouth, trouble opening your mouth wide, and other annoying symptoms. Things like arthritis, injury, teeth grinding, bite alignment problems, and muscle tension seem to contribute to TMJ issues. 

Teeth Problems

Dental problems like cavities, gum disease, chipped fillings, and wisdom teeth flare-ups can also radiate pain into your jaw. Depending on the exact problem, you might feel aching, throbbing, or sharp pains in your jaw and upper teeth when you have dental issues.


Don’t forget about sinus problems! When your maxillary sinuses in your cheek area get inflamed or infected from a cold or allergies, it can definitely cause pain in your upper jaw and teeth. You’ll probably also notice congestion, runny nose, and headaches with a sinus issue.

Nerve Issues

Nerve problems like trigeminal neuralgia can also make you feel shooting facial pain originating from your jaw. Not fun! Damaged nerves apparently play a role in these types of neuralgias.

So those are some of the usual causes, but what can you actually do about jaw pain when it strikes? There are several options to consider:

How To Treat Jaw Pain

Basic pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce milder jaw pain. Prescription meds provide stronger relief for intense jaw and facial pain from neuralgia or severe TMJ problems.

If the issue is dental-related, then dental work like fillings, crowns, tooth removal, or other treatments can fix the source of your pain. And taking good care of your teeth and gums can prevent future problems!

Physical therapy with TMJ and muscular issues in the jaw area can also help a lot. Stretching, posture correction, massage, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and heat/ice therapy are some examples of what physical therapists can provide to loosen up your jaw muscles and joints. You should also consider seeing a TMJ specialist for a consultation.

Using night guards or bite splints is another option to help realign your bite, prevent teeth grinding at night, and distribute pressure more evenly across your jawline. These can treat pain from TMJ problems and reduce strain on painful spots.

Finally, if you still have chronic debilitating jaw pain after trying other therapies, surgical procedures like TMJ replacements, nerve decompression, or jaw realignment may offer relief when more conservative treatments fail.

Hopefully, this overview gives you a better idea of what’s causing your jaw pain and the different solutions you can try for relief. The right treatment depends on the specific problem, so diagnosing the source is key. With the help of your dentist and doctor, you can find the ideal treatment plan to get rid of that awful jaw pain for good!

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