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Learn about your jaw pain, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your jaw pain from our A.I. Symptom Checker. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Your Jaw Pain May Also be Known as:
Aches and pains in head
Aches and pains in jaw
He hurt his head
He hurt his jaw
Head discomfort
Head hurts
Head is painful
Head pain
Head soreness
Hurt her head

Jaw Pain Symptoms

Jaw pain can be a vague symptom with a number of different causes, and some of them are not really caused by the jaw. However, it is possible to search through your additional symptoms and pin down the cause of an aching, painful jaw.

Characteristics:

  • Aching pain in your jaw, ear, and/or face, especially when chewing or attempting to open or close your mouth.
  • Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds in your temporomandibular joint (TMJ,) which is the hinged joint just in front of your ear.
  • Locking or sticking of the TMJ.
  • Headache.
  • An uneven appearance to the teeth and to the bite, which may be either a cause or a result of your jaw pain.

Who is most often affected?

  • Women between the ages of about 30 to 50 seem to be most often affected, although anyone can have the symptom of jaw pain.
  • Anyone with the constant habit of chewing gum may find themselves with jaw pain, due to simple overuse of the chewing muscles.
  • If you wear orthodontic braces you may experience jaw pain, due to the forces trying to readjust the alignment of your teeth.
  • Sitting with poor posture with your head forward, such as when looking at a computer screen all day, is sometimes associated with TMJ pain.

Is it serious?

  • If the pain is caused by simple tension and anxiety, it can be easily treated either by your medical provider. You may be able to simply use some relaxation techniques on your own.
  • Jaw pain that is caused by dental problems or by inflammation of the TMJ should be treated by a dentist or other specialist, because these conditions can worsen and cause further pain and damage.
  • If you are having jaw pain as a symptom of a heart attack, or because you have a damaged, infected, or broken bone in the jaw, it must be treated right away.

Jaw Pain Causes Overview

Most common cause types:

  • Inflammation and wearing away of the cartilage of the temporomandibular joint.
  • Dental infections, which can spread down into the jawbone and the roots of the teeth.

Less common cause types:

  • Anxiety, which leads to tension, which can lead to tooth grinding and jaw clenching. The actions can cause damage and uneven wear to the surface of the teeth, which then causes uneven pressure on the joints of the jawbones.
  • Overusing the jaw muscles for chewing or even talking, which can leave these muscles sore and inflamed.
  • Abnormalities of the jaw, which can be treated by dentists and other specialists.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome, where "trigger points" – small areas of very tight, contracted muscle tissue –cause pain when touched or pressed.

Rare & unusual cause types:

  • Injury that may not be obvious right away, such as a fracture. This can occur to either an upper or lower jawbone,
  • A tumor forming in or somewhere near the jawbones.
  • Heart attack.

Top 10 Jaw Pain Causes

  1. 1.Temporomandibiular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder

    The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of the ear, and it connects the jaw to the side of the head. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a painful condition which can be caused by excess tension in jaw mucles, faulty alignment between upper and lower teeth, arthritis in the joint, or injury of the jaw or face.

    You should visit your primary care physician. This is a complex condition to treat, because the causes are not always clear. Treatment may include resting the jaw with a soft diet, pain medications, and physical therapy.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, history of headaches, pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw, pain in the back of the neck, jaw pain
    Symptoms that always occur with temporomandibiular joint (tmj) dysfunction disorder:
    pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Myofascial Pain Syndrome

    Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic musculoskeletal syndrome caused by trigger points within muscle. Pressure on these points causes pain in the area around the point as well as in other body parts, a phenomenon known as referred pain.

    You should visit your primary care physician. This complex chronic condition is often treated with injections and physical therapy.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain in the back of the neck, shoulder blade pain, difficulty moving the shoulder
    Symptoms that always occur with myofascial pain syndrome:
    tender muscle knot
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread pain, tenderness, and fatigue.

    Fibromyalgia is treated symptomatically. Medication, therapy, and stress reduction may reduce symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, trouble sleeping, depressed mood, headache
    Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia:
    hidden: arthralgias or myalgias
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa)

    Swimmer's ear, also known as otitis externa, is inflammation, irritation, or infection of the outer ear and ear canal.

    You should go to your primary care doctor in the next day or so. There, diagnosis can be confirmed by observation. Treatment with antibiotic drops will be started.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, jaw pain, ear pain that gets worse when moving
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Paget Disease of the Bone

    Paget's disease of the bone is a disorder in which the bone recycling process goes astray. While many people with the disease have no symptoms, some suffer from bone pain and easily broken bones.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will confirm the diagnosis with a blood test and bone scans.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    new headache, pelvis pain, back pain, spontaneous bone pain, ringing in the ears
    Symptoms that always occur with paget disease of the bone:
    spontaneous bone pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  6. 6.Heart Attack in a Woman

    Most heart attacks happen when a clot in the coronary artery blocks the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Often this leads to an irregular heartbeat - called an arrhythmia - that causes a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart.

    You should call 911.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, abdominal pain (stomach ache), pain in one arm, being severely ill, shortness of breath
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  7. 7.Giant Cell Arteriis

    Giant cell arteritis is a disorder that causes inflammation of arteries of the scalp, neck, and arms. It narrows the arteries, which keeps blood from flowing well.

    You should visit your primary care physician to confirm the diagnosis and discuss treatment options for managing symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, joint pain, new headache, muscle aches, fever
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Ankylosing Spondylitis

    Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis of the spine. It causes swelling between the vertebrae, which are the disks that make up the spine, and in the joints between the spine and pelvis.

    You should visit your primary care physician, where, based on clinical exam, blood tests, and x-ray, your doctor will likely recommend physical therapy and medications (Ibuprofen or an immune-system modifier).

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, trouble sleeping, back pain, joint pain, pain in the back of the neck
    Symptoms that always occur with ankylosing spondylitis:
    back pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Psoriatic Arthritis

    Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. Some people who have psoriasis also get a form of arthritis (inflammation and swelling of joints) called psoriatic arthritis.

    You should visit your primary care physician to manage this disease as there are many treatment options. A treatment plan will often consist of therapy (physical, occupational, massage), patient education, exercise and rest, devices to protect joints, medicine and/or surgery.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    joint pain, lower back pain, shoulder pain, upper back pain, joint stiffness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  10. 10.Osteonecrosis of the Jaw

    This is a condition where the jaw bone is exposed (this happens if it is not covered by gums). To be called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), this condition must persist for at least 8 weeks. This disease is common among people taking medications called bisphosphonates or RANKL inhibitors.

    You should visit your primary care physician. This condition is usually treated conservatively with rinses, antibiotics, and pain medication for the mouth.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    jaw pain, jaw lump, toothache, heavy jaw, swollen jaw
    Symptoms that always occur with osteonecrosis of the jaw:
    jaw pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Jaw Pain Treatments and Relief

Seek immediate treatment in the emergency room or call 911 if:

  • The jaw pain is accompanied by chest pain, sweating, and/or shortness of breath.
  • The jaw pain is sudden and severe, especially following a fall or accident of any kind, and you are unable to properly move, open, or close your jaw.

Schedule an appointment for:

  • Jaw pain that seems to come from one or both corners of the jawbone, up in front of your ears. You may be referred for physical therapy, corticosteroid injections into the joint, or, more rarely, for surgery.
  • Jaw pain that seems to be localized to one or more teeth. Your dentist can help with this by treating any teeth in need of filling or removal.
  • Jaw pain that may be caused by ongoing tension or anxiety, which leads to tooth grinding and constant clenching and tensing of the jaw. Your medical provider can help you with this or refer you to someone who can.

Remedies that you can try at home:

  • Avoiding chewing gum as well as foods that are difficult to chew, such as taffy.
  • Stretching or massaging the muscles of the jaw.
  • Using hot or cold packs to ease pain.
  • Using over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Jaw Pain

  • Q.How long has your jaw pain been going on?
  • Q.How severe is your jaw pain?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you been experiencing dizziness?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our jaw pain symptom checker.

Check my symptoms

Jaw Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced jaw pain have also experienced:

    • 8% Headache
    • 4% Eye Pain
    • 3% Chest Pain
  • People who have experienced jaw pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 38% Less Than a Day
    • 29% Less Than a Week
    • 17% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced jaw pain were most often matched with:

    • 42% Temporomandibiular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder
    • 5% Myofascial Pain Syndrome
    • 3% Fibromyalgia

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Check my jaw pain symptoms

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having jaw pain symptoms

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