The Potential Causes of Your Jaw Pain and Solutions for Relief

| 6 min read

It’s no surprise that you want to protect your quality of life. Pain can disrupt it.

Relative to your dental health, experiencing jaw pain, for example, can have major impact on your quality of life. That’s good reason to know the causes and solutions for jaw pain due to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and teeth grinding (bruxism).

Why does your jaw hurt?

The most common causes of jaw pain (as noted) are TMJ disorder and teeth grinding. Let’s unpack each so you can know the potential source of your pain and begin to seek a solution.

TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder)

This condition is triggered by the damaged or misaligned joints and muscles that control your jaw movement. The source of damage or misalignment can vary.

  • Trauma to your jaw
  • Teeth or jaw misalignment
  • Arthritis
  • Ongoing stress that causes you to clench or tighten your jaw muscles
  • Poor posture

TMJ issues can produce chronic jaw pain and in some instances make it difficult to open and close your mouth.

Teeth grinding (bruxism)

During sleep or other moments of unawareness you could be clenching or grinding your teeth together. Doing so consistently can produce friction and pressure that strains your jaw muscles and connected joints.

Whether you’re grinding or clenching from stress and anxiety or due to an abnormal bite or misaligned teeth - pain and discomfort are common results.

What are the ongoing symptoms associated with jaw pain?

Tenderness and radiating pain

Your jaw joint region will likely feel painful and uncomfortable. The pain will affect your face, temples, or ears.

You might also notice the pain worsening as you chew your food or when talking.

Stiffness or limited movement

TMJ and teeth clenching or grinding often produces muscle rigidity. It could further be difficult to open your mouth wide or you could feel as though your jaw is locked and unable to move.

Clicking or popping

It’s common to hear a clicking and/or popping sound when your jaw moves. Jaw misalignment or damage to the cartilage and tendons in your jaw joint are associated with the noise you hear as you open and close your mouth.

Headaches, neck pain, and earaches

Your jaw muscles extend into your head and neck region. Misalignment or muscle damage in your jaw can impact those adjoining regions.

How can jaw pain be treated?

Monitor and manage your lifestyle

Be aware of any stressors or anxiety producing issues in your life. Again, these can trigger teeth grinding and TMJ conditions.

  • Apply stress management strategies such as meditation or relaxation exercises, etc.
  • Monitor your posture and movement
  • Maintain a diet that avoids stressing your jaw muscles with hard to chew foods, etc.

Get relief with medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers are useful for temporary relief from jaw pain. Go-to pain relief with ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help take the edge off.

If you have severe jaw pain, your healthcare provider could prescribe a muscle relaxant for pain relief.

Look into additional therapies

Physical therapy techniques such as jaw exercises and neck stretches supervised or recommended by a physical therapist can be beneficial.

Consider stress management through activities such as yoga, physical exercise, and counseling. Other alternatives could include chiropractic care or biofeedback therapy.

These alternate therapies are designed to promote relaxation and tension relief.

Seek dental treatment

Your dentist could recommend a custom-designed mouthguard. This dental appliance is designed to protect your teeth from grinding and is helpful for alleviating jaw pain.

Some orthodontic treatments are effective to correct tooth misalignment that could be causing your jaw pain.

Keep in mind that the source of your jaw pain is typically centered in your mouth region. Thus, it’s a good idea to begin by consulting with a dental professional to diagnose and recommend treatment for your condition.

One dental solution could begin with easy access to an online, licensed dentist.

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  • Connection to in-person dental care with dentists in your zip code

Discover more about how a virtual dental visit works and (for example) how it could be your first step to treating your jaw pain:

So, What Happens During a Virtual Dental Visit (and What are the Benefits)?

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