Why Do I Have Jaw Pain?

causes of jaw pain

Why Do I Have Jaw Pain?

If you suffer from jaw pain, you’re not alone—especially right now. It is a stressful time for many Americans and stress is one of the leading causes of jaw pain. At Prescott Dentistry, we understand how debilitating it can be so, in today’s post we’ll look at some of the things that may be causing your pain. In our next post, we’ll look at some home remedies for jaw pain relief. 

1. TMD 

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is the most common cause of jaw pain, with nearly 10 million American adults suffering from the condition. You may have also heard this referred to as TMJ. The temporomandibular joints connect the jaw bone to the skull, and are located right in front of each ear. This joint allows you to move your jaw so that you can talk, chew and yawn—all very common activities that can become extremely painful with TMD.  

While it often isn’t clear what leads TMD, some common causes include:

  • Injury to the joint or the muscles surrounding it 
  • Stress—which may cause grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Arthritis 
  • A displaced or eroded disc in the joint 

If you have TMD, you may be experiencing one or more of these symptoms: 

  • Pain or soreness in one or both jaw joints
  • Pain in and around your ear
  • Pain with chewing
  • Aches in your facial muscles 
  • Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
  • Clicking/popping sounds when you open or close your mouth
  • Locked jaw

Some less likely causes of jaw pain are:


2. Infection

Sinus and ear infections may cause pain to radiate to your jaw. Here are some other symptoms you might experience with one of these infections: 

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Toothache
  • Cheek pain
  • Nasal congestion


3. Heart Attack

Surprisingly, jaw pain can sometimes be one sign of a heart attack, which is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. If you think you or someone you’re with might be experiencing a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Other symptoms that could indicate a heart attack include: 

  • A crushing, heavy feeling in the center or the left side of the chest—this pain sometimes radiates to the jaw and neck or arms
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Back pain 


4. Tooth Pain

Sometimes abscesses in the teeth can cause pain that radiates to the jaw. Abscesses are a dental emergency. Please call us right away if you suspect you might have one. Toothaches caused by cavities can also sometimes cause jaw pain if the nerve is affected, although this is rarer. 


5. Cluster headaches

If you have pain behind or around your eyes, then your jaw pain might be caused by cluster headaches. These are generally considered to be the most painful types of headaches. 


We Are Open for Emergencies

If you have severe jaw pain or you aren’t experiencing relief from your pain with over-the-counter pain medication, or if your jaw becomes locked, please be sure to give our team at Prescott Dentistry a call right away. And stay tuned for our next post where we’ll discuss some simple home remedies for jaw pain caused by stress.