Picture of man gripping cheek with mouth pain

Causes and Symptoms of Jaw Pain

Posted On: January 12, 2023

Millions of people suffer from jaw pain on a daily basis.  There are several causes for jaw discomfort and it is possible that more than one thing is contributing to the pain. This can make it difficult to figure out the origin of the problem.

Symptoms that accompany jaw pain

  • Joint and muscle tenderness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Earaches
  • Dizziness
  • Facial pain that worsens when the jaw is used
  • Clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth
  • Jaw locking
  • Dull, aching, to sharp, stabbing pain
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling
  • Headaches
  • Toothaches

Whether you are experiencing one or many of the symptoms listed above, there could be an underlying issue that needs be discussed with your Dentist or Orthodontist. 

Disorders Associated with Jaw Pain and Discomfort

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is the most common cause of jaw pain.  The Temporomandibular joints are the hinged joints located on either of side of your jaw.  TMJ refers to disorders of these joints and the muscles responsible for jaw movement.  This condition affects up to 12% of people. Women of child-bearing age are more commonly affected.


Arthritis, including Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis, can also cause jaw pain because it breaks down the cartilage that protects your joints. As a result, this will also cause inflammation.

Trauma or Injury,

Any trauma such as a blow or hit to the jaw can cause pain, bruising or swelling. This can cause chronic jaw pain if not treated properly. 

Dental Problems

Jaw pain can be a result of common dental problems such as Toothaches or Gum DiseaseYou may experience a toothache if there is a cavity or abscess that has been left untreated – this can radiate pain into your jaw.

Need for Orthodontia

Jaw pain often comes from the misalignment of a person’s teeth and jaw. How someone bites down can have a huge effect on the health of their jaw and the discomfort they may experience when doing something as simple as eating.  When teeth are properly aligned, the temporomandibular joint can move back into its proper position, relieving the jaw of any pressure and tension. This is something we see often at Fry Orthodontics

Teeth Grinding and Clenching

Grinding your teeth while sleeping or during periods of increased stress can lead to jaw pain as well as tooth damage.

Sinus Cavities

The sinus cavity is located very close to the jaw joint, therefore an infection within this area can cause pressure and pain in the jaw.

Cluster Headaches

People who suffer from severe headaches may have a lot of pressure behind the eyes, which often radiates to the jaw.


Other causes of jaw pain

Jaw pain may also be caused by other conditions such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid conditions, sleep problems, stress, or vitamin deficiencies.  Other factors not related to underlying health conditions could include chewing gum, teeth grinding, eating tough foods or over-extending joint as with a yawn.

If you experience persistent symptoms, and the pain interferes with your daily life and is not made better with home treatment, it is important to contact a health care professional for diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor or dentist need to perform certain diagnostic tests such as physical exam, including the head and neck, a complete medical history, oral x-rays or MRI.  Depending on the suspected cause, a psychiatric screening or sleep study could assist in diagnosing the cause.


Treatments for jaw pain

Treating jaw pain with dental origins may vary depending on the isolated cause.  They can include:

  • Orthodontics
  • Use of a mouth guard
  • Root canal
  • Periodontal treatment
  • Antibiotics
  • Muscle relaxants 
  • Steroid injections
  • Relaxation therapies
  • Local anesthetic injections
  • A combination of the above


No one should have to live with unnecessary pain.  Knowing what could be the cause of your jaw pain and taking the proper steps to treat it could help detect an underlying medical issue or, at the very least, help improve your ability to eat and speak without pain. 

If you think your jaw pain could be coming from the misalignment of your teeth or jaw, it’s important to schedule a visit with your Orthodontist. At Fry Orthodontics in Kansas City, we offer free consultations so you can get the answers you need at no cost to you! Give our office a call at: 913-469-9191 | 816-877-0050 or visit our website at www.fryorthodontics.com to schedule a free exam today!