4 Possible Causes of Jaw Pain and How to Treat It

Updated on October 25, 2022

When pain strikes the side of your jaw, it has the potential to send you into a panic. However, the chances are that there’s nothing serious causing you pain, and more times than not, you can treat the pain at home. Throughout this article, we’ll discuss three common causes of jaw pain and tell you how to deal with each one. 


When your nasal cavities become inflamed, it’s referred to as sinusitis. Typically, you will find this happens when you’ve got a cold or flu. However, other medical conditions can lead to sinusitis, including allergies. The signs of sinusitis include:

  • Loss of taste or smell (or reduced efficiency)
  • Pain and pressure in head and ears
  • Congestion – blocked up nose
  • Green or yellow mucus in the throat or nose
  • Fatigue
  • Facial pain and swelling

Typically, sinusitis will subside on its own with plenty of rest and fluids. However, if you’re suffering for over a week, you should seek medical support. If you need to clear a blocked nose, you should elevate your head while you sleep. Alternatively, you can clear out your nasal passage using a saltwater mix. If you’re a smoker, you should avoid this while you’ve got sinusitis because the harmful chemicals in tobacco will make your symptoms worse. 

TMJ Disorders

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) causes damage to the joint between the jaw and skull. Separating the joint is a disc, which can become dislodged and cause discomfort. You may begin to suffer from earache, jaw lock, tenderness, and a clicking sound associated with jaw movement. The cause of TMJ disorders can stem from a range of different medical issues including:

  • Cartilage damage
  • Tooth damage
  • Arthritis
  • Jaw infections

There are many different ways to treat TMJ disorders, including over-the-counter pain relief and this tongue exercise, which is believed to strengthen the jaw. Alternatively, muscle relaxants can be prescribed to alleviate pain caused by muscle spasms. 

Dental Problems

If jaw pain is isolated to a single side, the chances are that you have oral or dental concerns to contend with. Common causes of dental jaw pain include:

  • Misaligned teeth or gaps
  • Tooth decay or gum disease
  • Cavities
  • Wisdom tooth growth
  • Clenching and grinding teeth
  • A tooth abscess (often brings fever and a swollen face)

Typically, if dental problems are to blame, you will have jaw pain alongside other symptoms including:

  • Mouth sores
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Intermittent or lingering tooth pain
  • Persistent dry mouth or bad breath
  • Pain while swallowing or chewing
  • Bleeding gums

Oral health is complex, and it’s best not to ignore any problems. The best course of action is to take over-the-counter painkillers and pay a visit to your dentist. They will determine the root cause of the jaw ache and offer treatment. If your teeth are misaligned, you may need to wear a custom-built dental appliance. Alternatively, if you have tooth decay, you may need to have a filling. 

Tumors or Cysts

In some rare cases, jaw disease may point to cysts or tumors. A cyst is a fluid-filled sac, and a tumor is an unwanted growth of tissue, but both can cause jaw pain. You won’t always find symptoms associated with cysts or tumors, but you may suffer:

  • Noticeable growths and lumps
  • Bleeding from open sores
  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • Swelling in face and jaw
  • Persistent sore throat

The type of cyst or tumor will determine the treatment. However, the earlier it’s picked up, the more likely medical treatment is to work. 

Jaw pain can be caused by many different underlying medical conditions. Treatment can involve medication, rest, and exercise therapy. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.