What Causes Jaw Pain? How to Relieve Jaw Pain?

Jaw pain is a common disorder in society. In some cases, pain may spread to different parts of the face. Jaw pain can occur due to many different reasons.

What is Jaw Pain?

Jaw pain is a type of pain that can make it difficult to speak and eat. The jawbone, or mandible, is connected to the skull through the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is located just in front of the ears and allows the mouth to open and close. TMJ-related problems are among the most common causes of jaw pain. It attaches to the jawbone, teeth and gums. Therefore, problems such as infection in teeth and gums can also cause jaw pain.

What Causes Jaw Pain?

Jaw pain may develop due to different reasons. Each cause may cause pain with different characteristics or may cause other symptoms accompanying jaw pain. Despite all this, ‘Why does the jaw hurt?’ It may not always be easy to answer the question. Common causes of jaw pain:

Jaw Joint (Temporomandibular Joint – TMJ) Diseases 

TMJ diseases are among the most common causes of jaw pain. TMJ disease is seen in one in every 8 people. These diseases are more common in women.

TMJ diseases

  • Injury (trauma) to the jaw
  • Conditions such as arthritis (joint inflammation)
  • teeth grinding
  • Disorders in jaw and tooth structure (occlusal trauma)
  • It may occur due to conditions such as inflammation in the muscles around the jaw.

Symptoms due to TMJ diseases:

  • Hearing a ‘click’ sound when opening the mouth
  • Pain/pain in the face, ear and jaw
  • constant headache
  • tinnitus
  • dizziness
  • Deterioration in visual functions
  • Difficulty and pain while chewing
  • It can be considered as jaw locking.
  • Stress can aggravate the symptoms seen in TMJ diseases.


The jawbone, like other bones, can break or dislocate due to trauma. After damage to the jawbone, the person:

  • jawbone pain
  • Bruising and bruise formation around the jaw
  • swelling in the jaw
  • Tooth fracture or tooth loss may occur.

Tooth and Gum Problems

Dental problems that may cause jaw pain are as follows:

  • Decayed tooth or abscess development in the tooth
  • Tooth cracks and fractures that cause the tooth to become sensitive to temperature or pressure
  • gum diseases
  • wisdom teeth eruption
  • Tooth alignment disorders
  • teeth grinding

Generally, jaw pain occurs on the side where the toothache or gum problem occurs. For example, a tooth decay on the right side causes right jaw pain. Pain is usually regional.

Joint Related Problems

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune joint disease that develops when immune cells attack a person’s own body. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the temporomandibular joint. In the joint affected by the disease, the cartilage structure that allows the jaw to move smoothly is damaged. As a result, the person may experience pain in the jawbone.

Some Diseases

Although rare today, thanks to vaccination, diseases such as mumps and tetanus can cause jaw pain. Mumps, a disease caused by a virus infection, causes swelling in the salivary glands located next to the mouth. In this disease, jaw movements may be restricted.

Heart attack

Pain under the left jaw may be a symptom of a heart attack. During a heart attack, pain transmitted from nerves close to the heart may be felt as if it were elsewhere in the body. This condition is called “referred pain”. In a heart attack, left jaw pain or lower jaw pain may also appear as referred pain. The pain may radiate to the shoulder and inner arm as well as the jaw.


The spaces in the nose and under the eyes are called sinuses. Inflammation of the sinus cavities is called sinusitis . Especially chronic sinusitis can cause pain in the upper part of the jaw, that is, at the base of the jaw.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

The nerve that carries the sensation of the facial area to the brain is the trigeminal nerve. Pain may occur as a result of blood vessels pressing on this nerve. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) disease can also cause this condition. Jaw pain seen in trigeminal neuralgia is usually unilateral. This pain, which is felt mostly as upper jaw pain, is often described by patients as being like a stabbing or electric shock. Jaw pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia can be so severe that it makes eating and drinking impossible.

Cluster Headache

Cluster headache is a type of pain that begins suddenly or occurs in a specific pattern. This pain may be severe enough to wake the person up at night. Cluster headache can cause pain in the jaw as well as in the eye and temple area.


Infections in the bone are called osteomyelitis. Anaerobic osteomyelitis, a subgroup of osteomyelitis, can affect the jawbone. If the infection in the jawbone is left untreated, permanent damage to the bone may occur.

Tumors and Cysts

Tumor and cyst formation can be observed in the jawbone, soft tissues of the mouth and face. These structures, called odontogenic, are generally not malignant. However, these structures can grow rapidly and affect dental health. Therefore, odontogenic tumors and cysts may need to be removed surgically.

How to Relieve Jaw Pain?

In order to permanently relieve jaw pain, the condition causing the pain must be identified and treated. However, there are some practices that help relieve pain in the process until a permanent solution. These applications:

  • Putting a heated towel on the painful area of ​​the jaw
  • Applying cold to the painful area (for example, wrapping an ice block in a towel and placing it on the relevant area)
  • Using painkillers containing ibuprofen or paracetamol
  • Massage the affected jaw joint by gently pressing and drawing circles with the index and middle fingers.
  • Physical Therapy applied to the jaw joint area can be applied.

How is Jaw Pain Treated?

  • Treatment of jaw pain is directed to the disorder causing the pain. In the treatment of TMJ diseases, painkillers and jaw joint strengthening exercises are used.
  • Treatment of tooth and gum diseases is carried out by dentists according to the disease (root canal treatment or tooth extraction for decay, antibiotics for infection, etc.).
  • Since rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, immunosuppressant drugs can be used in its treatment.
  • A heart attack is a condition that requires urgent medical attention. There are options such as angiography and bypass surgery in the treatment of heart attack.
  • Nasal sprays containing various medications may be preferred in the treatment of sinusitis.
  • Medicines such as carbamazepine, which prevent the nerve from sending signals to the brain, can be used to treat trigeminal neuralgia.
  • For cluster headaches, triptan group agents may be prescribed to the patient.
  • Osteomyelitis is treated with antibiotics.
  • Odontogenic tumors and cysts are planned to be surgically removed so that they do not disrupt dental health in the future.
  • In order for jaw pain to be treated successfully, the underlying disease must be corrected or controlled. Pain treatment without these will not be effective.
  • It can be treated using night plates.
  • Selective abrasions can be performed in cases of occlusal trauma.

Jaw pain is often seen as a simple discomfort. However, jaw pain may be a sign of a life-threatening problem such as a heart attack. Therefore, people with jaw pain that does not go away on its own within a few days; You should definitely apply to a health center and have the necessary check-ups.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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