Why Does Your Jaw Hurt? Reasons for Jaw Pain among Adults

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  • Jaw pain, often indicative of underlying issues, affects around ten million Americans, primarily due to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction.
  • Dental problems like infections, cavities, or impacted teeth can cause localized jaw pain signaling decay or gum disease.
  • Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to consistent jaw pain, stiffness, and limited movement.
  • Sinus infections and injury or trauma to the jaw can result in jaw pain, with severe conditions including dislocation or fractures.
  • Treatments for jaw pain include surgery, physical therapy, medication, and home remedies like applying warm compresses or practicing good posture.

Jaw pain can be quite debilitating. It can prevent you from eating and speaking properly, making it a challenge to perform everyday activities. While pain in the jaw can be frustrating and uncomfortable, it is important to understand that it often indicates an underlying issue that needs to be identified and treated. Here’s what you need to know about jaw pain, its reasons, and how to treat it.

Jaw pain girl

Jaw Pain Prevalence

It’s estimated that about ten million Americans experience jaw pain at some point. The most common type of jaw pain is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which several factors can cause. Here are some of those reasons:

1. Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)

One of the most common reasons for jaw pain among adults is TMJ dysfunction. Your temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull, and it is responsible for your jaw’s smooth movement when you eat or speak. TMJ pain occurs when the joint becomes inflamed or damaged, which can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw that can radiate to other parts of the face and neck. Common causes of TMJ disorders include stress, teeth grinding or clenching, poor posture, and injury to the jaw.

2. Dental Problems

Dental problems like infections, cavities, or impacted teeth can also cause jaw pain. Pain in the jaw can be a sign of tooth decay or gum disease. Patients who suffer from gum disease usually experience pain localized in the jawbone near the teeth that are affected. You must visit your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings to maintain good oral health.

3. Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition that can also cause jaw pain. Osteoarthritis is particularly prevalent among older adults and can cause pain in the jaw joint. Rheumatoid arthritis also affects the joints in the jaw, leading to swelling and pain. Arthritis pain tends to be consistent and can be accompanied by stiffness and limited range of motion.

4. Sinus Infections

Sinus infections can lead to jaw pain, particularly in the upper jaw. When the sinuses become inflamed or infected, they can cause pressure in the surrounding areas, including the jaw.

5. Injury or Trauma

Accidents, falls, or sports injuries can cause injury or trauma to the jaw. It is essential to seek medical attention, even if the pain seems minor, as it can lead to severe conditions such as jaw dislocation or fracture.


Thankfully, there are various ways to treat jaw pain. Here are four ways:

Mouth getting checked by dentist


One of the most common and effective treatments for jaw pain is arthrocentesis. This minimally invasive procedure involves the insertion of a needle into the jaw joint to remove any inflamed or damaged tissue that may be causing pain. Surgery is often recommended for more severe cases of TMJ disorder and if other treatments have been unsuccessful in providing relief. Contact a local oral and maxillofacial surgeon to get yourself checked. They can diagnose you with the right treatment and guide you.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a great way to treat jaw pain without surgery. It involves exercises that help strengthen and relax the jaw muscles, allowing for an improved range of motion and less pain. Your physical therapist can also teach you proper posture to reduce tension in the jaw joint.


Medication is one of the most common treatments for jaw pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often recommended to reduce inflammation in the joint, while muscle relaxants can relieve any tension and pain in the jaw area. Your doctor may prescribe stronger medications or even Botox injections to reduce pain and spasms in more severe cases.

Home Remedies

In addition to the above treatments, there are some home remedies that you can try to help relieve jaw pain. These include applying a warm compress on the affected area, avoiding sudden jaw movements, and eating soft foods such as mashed potatoes and oatmeal. Massage or gentle stretching exercises can also help reduce pain and tension in the jaw. Finally, it is important to practice good posture to ensure that your jaw is properly aligned.

If you are experiencing jaw pain, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to identify the underlying cause and provide you with the best treatment plan for your particular case. With the right treatment, you can relieve your jaw pain and get back to enjoying life.

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