Jaw Pain Causes: Why You Might Be Feeling Pain

Jaw pain is often described as a throbbing, uncomfortable pain. It can happen all of a sudden, or it can start off mildly and become more intense over time. However, the exact symptoms will vary depending on the root cause. Identifying the underlying issue is the first step in treating this condition. Here are a few causes to look out for.

Teeth Grinding

Grinding can cause severe damage to your teeth and is one of the leading jaw pain causes. It is the process of clenching and gnashing the teeth, that is not associated with chewing. Some people grind their teeth when they feel stressed, but a lot of people grind their teeth while sleeping, they just aren't aware of it. If left untreated, it can potentially lead to a number of other dental issues. Practicing stress relieving exercises or wearing a bite splint constructed by your dentist, at night, are just some of the ways to stop tooth grinding.


Osteomyelitis is an infection in an individual's bone/s and any surrounding tissues. When an individual experiences osteomyelitis of the jaw there is likely to be jaw pain, fever and facial swelling. Fortunately, this condition is generally curable with a series of antibiotics or a surgical procedure to remove the areas of the bone that has died from the infection. 

Temporomandibular Disorder

Temporomandibular disorder, also known as TMD, affects the temporomandibular joint of the jaw. In addition to pain, this disorder can cause the jaw to make a clicking sound when opening the mouth or chewing. There is often "headache-like" pain in the muscles of the face because of associated muscle spasms. In severe cases, the disorder can even cause the jaw to become permanently stuck in an open or closed position.

Dental Conditions

Other jaw pain causes can include advanced gum disease, cavities or an abscess. Although many of these issues don't directly affect the jaw, the pain can radiate into the jaw area. Additionally, individuals who have teeth that are damaged may also experience jaw pain when stress is put on their jaw, such as biting or chewing. Practicing a good oral health care regimen at home and visiting the dentist can help reduce your risk of developing any of these conditions.

Abscessed Tooth due to Dental Decay

An abscessed tooth is the result of a dental pulp, or "nerve", that has become infected. It generally occurs when a dental cavity has been left untreated for an extended period. When the bacteria from the infection begins to spread outside the root of the tooth, it can also affect any surrounding bone tissues, causing significant jaw pain. Having regular dental exams and treating any dental cavities promptly, is the best way to avoid this issue.

Only a qualified dental professional can help you determine the root cause of your jaw pain.


This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

More Articles You May Like