Does TMJ Cause Tooth Pain?

does TMJ cause tooth pain - man holding jaw

Does TMJ Cause Tooth Pain?

Is it a toothache or a jaw disorder? Is it both? Jaw and tooth pain can in fact be related, and leave you miserable when you experience both at once. In order to find long-term relief, you need to get to the bottom of what’s causing your discomfort. Continue reading to learn whether a TMJ disorder could be the cause of your tooth pain, or if it might be something else entirely. 

What Is a TMJ Disorder?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is what connects your jawbone to your skull. You have two of these joints—one on each side of your face near your temples, in front of your ears. TMJ disorders, also called TMD, are conditions that cause pain in the temporomandibular joints. TMJ disorders can also affect the muscles that allow you to move your jaw. 

The symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Difficult or painful chewing 
  • Pain or stiffness in one or both temporomandibular joints
  • Locked jaw or difficulty opening and closing jaw all the way
  • Popping or clicking sound when using jaw
  • Facial swelling
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Facial pain
  • Toothache

How Does a TMJ Disorder Cause Tooth Pain?

Because there are many muscles and nerves that surround the temporomandibular joint, jaw pain often radiates to other parts of your head. Sometimes, the pain can cause earaches and headaches. And if TMJ pain radiates downward, it can feel like a toothache. But it can also work the other way around, with pain from a toothache radiating upward to cause jaw pain. 

TMJ disorders may also lead to bruxism, which is when you unconsciously grind or clench your teeth. Over time, bruxism causes enamel erosion and painful tooth sensitivity to hot and cold. TMD can also cause you to shift your bite over time, which can also cause tooth pain. 

Is Your Toothache from TMJ Disorders or Something Else?

Just because both your jaw and teeth hurt doesn’t always mean that TMJ pain is causing your toothache. Tooth pain has a variety of causes, and many of them require immediate attention. For example, broken teeth, infections, and cavities can all cause tooth pain and sensitivity. 

Signs that you need to visit the dentist include tooth discoloration, pus near the tooth, and chips, cracks, or pits in your teeth. Sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks in particular is a sign of weak enamel, which also requires immediate professional dental care. 

How to Relieve TMJ and Tooth Pain

If your tooth pain is from TMD, treating the disorder is the best way to find relief. In the meantime, you can relieve TMJ pain with the following methods:

  • Gently massage your jaw muscles
  • Practice TMJ exercises that help relax the jaw muscles
  • Apply a hot compress to loosen tight jaw muscles
  • Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and numb the pain
  • Wear a mouthguard at night to reduce the effects of teeth grinding 

If your tooth pain still persists after you treat your TMJ pain, then you need to treat the cause. At Prescott Dentistry, we can determine exactly what’s causing your toothache and provide the treatment you need. 

Until your appointment, you can relieve tooth pain at home with the following remedies:

  • Use a saltwater rinse—mix ½ tsp of salt into a glass of 8 oz warm water, rinse for 30-60 seconds, then spit.
  • Drink peppermint tea (it contains menthol, which helps numb pain) or apply a room-temperature peppermint tea bag to the painful area. 
  • Apply a cold compress to your jaw near the aching tooth. Never apply ice directly to your skin, which can damage it.
  • Apply vanilla extract (not imitation vanilla) directly to the afflicted area. 

Toothache Treatment in Prescott, Arizona

You should never ignore a problem with your teeth, especially if it’s causing you discomfort. The compassionate team at Prescott Dentistry can help you get to the bottom of whether a TMJ disorder or another issue is causing your pain. We’ll also discuss the best, non-invasive treatment solutions that will help you find long-term relief. Call us at 928-445-1660 today to make an appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/11/2022). Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash