Why Does My Jaw Hurt- Knowing The Underlying Reasons

It can be quite alarming when it comes to the sudden pain on one side of the jaw, but it is not quite serious. You may not worry about any dental issues, including the abscessed tooth or cavity, wondering if you have been grinding your teeth at night. So, why does my jaw hurt?

There are various possible causes due to the one-sided pain in the jaw. From here, we will be going over a few primary causes, noting other symptoms to look out for, and allowing you to know when to check what your doctor or dentist will have to say as to why my jaw hurt on one side?



Why does my jaw hurt & why should it concern me? 

So, your question can be, why does my jaw hurt when I eat? In general, jaw pain on one of the sides is not causing any immediate concerns. It can be quite a heart attack symptom in the rarest cases. Anyone would be experiencing this symptom as it can occur more among women.

You will likely be checking out a few of the other signs along with the jaw pain during a heart attack that includes:

  • pressure or pain on the chest going away while you are resting, and it keeps recurring
  • the feeling of tightness, pain, and pressure in the chest and arm spreading to the neck, jaw, back, and stomach
  • indigestion or heartburn
  • shortness in breath
  • stomach pain, vomiting, and nausea
  • a lot of tiredness
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • the sudden appearance of cold sweats

So, why does my jaw hurt when I wake up? The symptoms would develop suddenly or come on slowly over several days or hours. Always seek emergency treatment or have someone drive you to the hospital if a few of these symptoms accompany your jaw pain.


Common causes for jaw pain 

Why Does My Jaw Hurt

So, why does my jaw hurt when I open my mouth? Let us check out a few of the common causes of jaw pain!

TMJ disorders

Temporomandibular joint or TMJ disorders will affect the joint that connects your jaw and skull. The disc would separate the bones in the joint, helping it move properly. You can experience the pain and other symptoms on both sides of your jaw if the disc becomes misaligned or the joint is damaged.

The following are the other symptoms of TMJ disorders that include:

  • Tenderness around your jaw
  • Earache
  • Pain, clicking or popping while chewing or opening your mouth
  • Difficulty opening and closing your mouth if the joint locks

Several factors contribute to the TMJ disorders, as it is not easier to check out this specific cause.

The following are the issues leading to TMJ disorders:

  • arthritis
  • teeth clenching or grinding
  • tissue damage
  • tooth damage or misalignment
  • jaw infection or injury
  • damage to the cartilage in the joint

If you often come across questions like why does my jaw hurts when I chew? Always make sure of speaking to the healthcare professional and even dentists to figure out the underlying cause if you are having symptoms of a TMJ disorder.



Sinusitis is often caused due to inflamed nasal cavities. It would tend to happen if you have a cold, but allergies and other medical conditions contribute to sinusitis.

You may feel in one or both the sides of your jaw if the sinus cavities behind your cheeks are inflamed, known as maxillary sinuses.

The symptoms included here are:

  • nasal congestion
  • yellow or green mucus
  • facial pain, pressure, and swelling
  • pressure and pain in your ears and head
  • fatigue
  • difficulty smelling or tasting

Sinusitis is worth checking in with your healthcare provider if it lasts for more than a week if sinusitis clears up.


Dental problems 

So, why does the left side of my jaw hurt? Pain on a single side of the jaw can be traced to oral or dental health concerns.

The following are common dental issues that cause jaw pain:

  • cavities
  • an abscessed tooth
  • growth of wisdom teeth
  • gum disease or tooth decay
  • missing or misaligned teeth
  • tooth grinding or clenching

The following are the additional symptoms leading to dental issues:

  • tooth pain
  • sensitive teeth
  • painful, bleeding gums
  • sores in your mouth
  • bad breath or persistent dry mouth
  • pain when chewing or swallowing

An abscess can be indicated through fever, facial swelling, and severe tooth pain. You can call your dentist and even the healthcare provider for the symptoms, mainly if swallowing and breathing become hard.


What are the rare causes of jaw pain? 

These issues would lead to pain on a single side of your jaw, as these issues are not quite common. Your healthcare provider might not be ruling out these causes if there is no clear reason for the pain.

Trigeminal neuralgia 

It is a chronic condition that generally results from abnormal pressure on the trigeminal nerve. The pressure will prevent the nerve from functioning properly, leading to much severe pain with an injury and even brain abnormality leading to this kind of condition.

Trigeminal neuralgia is common among women and people above the age of 50, and its main symptom is the severity of the pain that mainly occurs on one side of the face.

The following are what can be indicated from this pain:

  • It occurs when you are touching your face or moving facial muscles
  • Producing jabbing, shooting, and offering the shock-like sensations
  • The feel of constant burn or ache
  • cause twitching in your face
  • happening in episodes lasting for about minutes or seconds
  • occurs in the lower jaw, mouth, or cheeks
  • become serious over the time

Pain can be excruciating and brief. It would be responding to over-the-counter medications as your healthcare provider recommends other treatment that includes prescription medications.



It is quite uncommon, but the most severe kind of bone infections develop when bacteria enter the bone.

Your jawbone will become infected after the dental surgery if you have serious issues with your dental health or if the mouth is injured somehow. Some conditions would be affecting your immune health, increasing the risk.

The infection will be spreading and cause death to the bones. Immediate treatment with antibiotics will help in preventing some serious complications; therefore, it is vital to get the medical care that you have as follows:

  • Pain worsens in your jaw
  • a fever
  • swelling or tenderness in your teeth or jaw
  • redness or warmth in the painful area
  • tiredness or fatigue
  • bad breath
  • trouble opening and closing your mouth out of pain and swelling
  • numbness in your jaw, lips, or mouth


Tumors and cysts

The two kinds of growth will be differing. The tumors are masses of cysts and tissues that specifically contain the fluid. Either it would be causing pain in your jaw with both somewhat rare.

They are not cancerous as they still impact the entire oral health. They would be growing quickly, causing the teeth to move out of place and destroying the tissues and bone in the mouth and jaw.

The common tumors and cysts included would be affecting your mouth includes the following:

Not every tumor or cyst can lead to symptoms that you can experience the following along with the consistent pain in your jaw:

  • red or white patches in your mouth
  • open or bleeding sores
  • a lump or growth you can feel
  • lingering soreness or hoarse feeling in your throat
  • trouble swallowing or moving your jaw
  • tissue growth around teeth
  • a jaw or facial swelling

The treatment would depend on the kind of growth and their causes early detection and medical care improve the chances of successful treatments.


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How to get relief from jaw pain? 

Why Does My Jaw Hurt

You would not require any medical treatments if you have temporary or mild pain in the jaws. Pain mainly improves once the issues clear up if the causes are not serious.

These approaches will help in managing it in the meanwhile:

  • Using heat as heat helps in relaxing your muscle and helping in relieving stiffness and aches.
  • Use of cold or ice compresses as these would be aiding to numb the pain and specifically become helpful if you too experience the swelling.

Try nonprescription pain relief 

The pain can be relieved temporarily with Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and other over-the-counter pain medications. Ensure to follow the dosage instructions on the packages. You should see your healthcare provider if the recommended dose is not effective or you need to take the pain relievers for more than a few days.


Resting your jaw 

Select the foods that will not include a lot of chewing as they can help you avoid the overwork of your jaw muscles.


Try massage 

Your healthcare provider, massage therapist, or physical therapist will be using massage therapy to help release the tension and pain in your jaw. You also get to learn how you can use a few of the techniques on your own, as they can be quite helpful for TMJ disorders.


Try to relax 

The relaxation techniques will help you avoid using this as your stress response if your jaw pain arrives from clenching or grinding teeth. You can relax your muscles to help in relieving the pain.


Change your sleeping position

It can pressure your muscles if you are always sleeping on the same side or sleeping with your hand under your jaw. Switching the side you sleep on can help with your pain. On the other side, sleeping can help relieve the pain at night, even if your pain has a different cause.


When to see a doctor?

Why Does My Jaw Hurt

Pain accompanied by a few specific symptoms would be pointing out to a more serious condition that needs treatment, although it is not always serious.

You should visit your doctor or dentist if the pain sticks around for more than a few days or clears up and returns.

The following are a few of the other signs that it is time to get the opinion of your medical professional:

  • You have issues eating, swallowing, drinking, or even breathing.
  • Pain is difficult moving your mouth as you would.
  • The swelling or fever that will not go away
  • You will have severe pain suddenly going away after a burst of salty liquid tasting and smelling bad.
  • The intense rise in temperature, excruciating pain, swelling affect your ability to swallow and breathe with severe symptoms needing immediate treatment.


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Below we share FAQs related to the question of “Why does my Jaw Hurt”.

1. Will Covid make your jaw hurt? 

One common side effect in recovering COVID-19 patients is jaw pain, although we are not sure about it yet.


2. When should you be concerned about jaw pain? 

You should consult with your dentist or doctor as soon as possible if you are having severe worsening or persistent pain in the jaw. Pain in the jaw or face worsens when the person uses their jaw.


3. How does stress cause jaw pain? 

For several people, pain in the jaw and soreness are secondary to stress. Stress is how the body reacts and handles harmful situations as the ongoing stress manifests in its physical ways.


4. How can you loosen up a tight jaw? 

You can open and close your mouth many times as your warm-up and then hold your bottom teeth gently with a hand and pull down on your jaw till you start feeling the pain.


5. What causes clenches in the jaw? 

Emotional issues like anxiety and stress cause jaw clenching. Muscle tension is a common symptom of emotions, including the consistent clenching of your jaw.


6. Will the jaw pain go away? 

For several people, pain in the jaw joint and muscle area will not be signaling a serious issue. Specifically, discomfort from these situations is temporary and occasional and occurs in cycles.


7. Can you sprain your jaw? 

A sprain is caused due to excessive stretching or tearing. Jaw sprain takes place on the ligaments surrounding the jaw when stretched.


8. What do you understand by jaw tension feel? 

A few patients mention that their pain is like a dull ache as there is serious throbbing pain, while the others would say that their jaw feels tender, and others would say that their pain is disabling and severe.


9. Can you be overextending your jaw? 

A sprain in the jaw would be occurring from hyperextending, as in yawning or overextending by taking a huge bite of food as you play a wind instrument with the jaw that is pushed forward or keeps the mouth opened for long periods, such as the dental treatments.


Concluding thoughts 

Finally, the next time when you ask yourself, “why does my jaw hurt?” you can remember and relax that you do not require a long-enduring pain. Some dental professionals are experts at diagnosing and resolving jaw-related issues.


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