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What Jaw Pain Means: What Causes It and How to Treat It

Jaw pain may be a sign of dental problems like a toothache, TMJ Disorder, or a more severe condition. In this article, our dentists at Perth-Andover will discuss potential causes of jaw pain and offer advice on how to manage sore joints.

What causes jaw pain?

Experiencing jaw pain could be a sign of dental problems like a toothache, TMJ disorder, or even a more severe condition.

TMJ Disorders

Jaw pain is often caused by TMJ Disorder, which occurs when there's a problem with the facial and jaw muscles. The temporomandibular joint, connecting your jaw to the skull's temporal bones near your temple and in front of your ear, is essential for everyday activities like talking, breathing, and eating.

Various factors, including conditions l can trigger TMJ Disorders

  • Certain conditions or illnesses such as arthritis
  • Inflammation in the muscles surrounding your jaw
  • Misalignment of the jaw
  • Injury to the jaw

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder may include:

  • Pain or ache around your jaw, face or ears
  • Constant headaches
  • Locking or popping in your jaw
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • Ringing in ears

If you suspect a problem with your TMJ, it's important to consult your dentist for recommended treatments or exercises. In some cases, prescription drugs or surgery might be necessary to address the issue.


Even though we receive various routine vaccines during childhood that effectively eradicate diseases, there is still a chance of contracting illnesses that may lead to jaw pain and other symptoms.

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can make your jaw muscles feel stiff or tight. This severe condition may require weeks of hospitalization.


Your jaw, like any other bone, can get fractured or dislocated if it's hit. This can cause various symptoms, including:

  • Teeth that are loose or missing
  • Bruises
  • Pain
  • Swelling

If you experience persistent pain, missing teeth, or difficulty chewing or opening/closing your mouth after a jaw injury, visiting your dentist is important. They can provide appropriate dental treatment, and you may also find relief by taking over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen, if recommended by your dentist.

Dental Issues

A variety of dental issues can lead to a sore jaw. These can include:

  • Fractured or crowded teeth
  • Toothache (typically with an abscess or cavity as the underlying cause)
  • Teeth grinding
  • Gum disease (which can cause your jaw bone to become damaged)
  • Wisdom teeth erupting
  • Misaligned teeth

These problems should be addressed as soon as possible, and fractured teeth are dental emergencies, so you should see your dentist right away. Until then, keep the tooth that hurts clean and try rinsing with warm water.

Cysts or Tumors

Odontogenic cysts or tumors, although not usually cancerous, can swiftly affect your teeth. In some cases, surgery might be necessary to eliminate them.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are extremely painful headaches that can cause pain around or behind one eye. The pain can spread to the jaw as well.


Anaerobic osteomyelitis is a bone infection that specifically affects the lower jaw, known as the mandible. If not treated, this condition can block the blood flow to your jaw and cause harm to the bone tissue.

How can I get rid of jaw pain?

At-Home Care

  • Apply a warm, wet washcloth or ice pack covered in cloth to your jaw (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off)
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
  • Rub the affected joint. Massage the joint using your fingers, pressing the sore areas of your jaw and moving to the side of your neck.
  • Avoid caffeine (which can potentially contribute to muscle tension)

Dental Care

If your jaw pain continues even after trying home remedies, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

At Perth-Andover Dental, our dentists will talk to you about your symptoms, conduct a thorough oral examination, explain different treatment options, and create a personalized treatment plan based on your requirements. This plan might involve using a mouthguard or other suitable measures.

In exceptional situations, individuals experiencing severe pain from TMJ Disorder, who have structural issues in their jaw and haven't found relief from other remedies or treatments, may be recommended for oral surgery to correct the problem.

If you are experiencing jaw pain contact our Perth-Andover dentists to book an appointment today.

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Looking for a dentist in Perth-Andover? We're happily accepting new patients at our dental clinic! Contact us today. 

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