What are the possible causes and remedies for jaw pain?

Symptom Database

Jaw pain, also known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, can be a debilitating condition that affects many individuals. It can cause discomfort, difficulty in eating, and even impact daily activities. Understanding the possible causes and remedies for jaw pain is crucial in finding relief and managing this condition effectively.

Possible Causes of Jaw Pain

There are several factors that can contribute to jaw pain. Identifying the underlying cause is essential in determining the appropriate treatment. Some common causes of jaw pain include:

  • TMJ Disorder: TMJ disorder is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jawbone to the skull. This disorder can result from various factors such as jaw misalignment, teeth grinding, or arthritis.
  • Bruxism: Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can put excessive pressure on the jaw joint, leading to pain and discomfort.
  • Dental Issues: Dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease, or an abscessed tooth can cause referred pain in the jaw.
  • Injury: Trauma to the jaw, such as a fracture or dislocation, can result in persistent jaw pain.
  • Stress: Stress and anxiety can cause individuals to clench their jaw or grind their teeth, leading to jaw pain.

Symptoms of Jaw Pain

Jaw pain can manifest in various ways, and the symptoms may vary from person to person. Some common symptoms of jaw pain include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw joint
  • Difficulty or discomfort while chewing or speaking
  • Clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth
  • Locking of the jaw joint
  • Headaches or earaches
  • Facial pain or swelling

Treatment and Remedies for Jaw Pain

1. Self-Care and Lifestyle Changes

For mild cases of jaw pain, self-care and lifestyle changes can often provide relief. Some remedies and practices that may help include:

  • Applying a warm compress to the affected area to reduce muscle tension
  • Practicing relaxation techniques to alleviate stress and tension in the jaw
  • Avoiding hard or chewy foods that can strain the jaw
  • Using over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, to manage pain and inflammation
  • Practicing good posture to reduce strain on the jaw

2. Dental Treatments

If dental issues are the cause of jaw pain, seeking dental treatments can provide relief. Some dental treatments that may be recommended include:

  • Orthodontic treatment to correct jaw misalignment
  • Dental splints or mouthguards to alleviate teeth grinding
  • Fillings or root canals to address tooth decay or abscessed teeth
  • Gum disease treatment to reduce inflammation and infection

3. Physical Therapy and Exercises

Physical therapy and specific exercises can help strengthen the jaw muscles and improve jaw mobility. Some exercises that may be beneficial include:

  • Jaw stretches: Gently opening and closing the mouth to improve flexibility
  • Resisted jaw opening: Placing a thumb under the chin and pushing the jaw downward while resisting the movement with the hand
  • Tongue-to-roof press: Placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth and slowly opening and closing the mouth

4. Medications and Injections

In more severe cases, medications or injections may be prescribed to manage jaw pain. These can include:

  • Muscle relaxants to reduce muscle tension in the jaw
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate pain and inflammation
  • Corticosteroid injections to provide targeted pain relief

5. Surgical Intervention

In rare cases where conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered. Surgical options for jaw pain include:

  • Arthrocentesis: A minimally invasive procedure that involves flushing out the jaw joint with sterile fluid to reduce inflammation
  • Arthroscopy: A procedure where a small camera is inserted into the joint to assess and treat any underlying issues
  • Open-joint surgery: A more invasive procedure that involves repairing or replacing damaged joint structures

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or dentist to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for individual cases of jaw pain. They can provide a comprehensive evaluation and recommend the best course of action.


Jaw pain can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, relief is possible. Identifying the underlying cause of jaw pain is crucial in determining the appropriate remedies and treatments. Whether it is through self-care, dental treatments, physical therapy, medications, or surgical intervention, there are various options available to manage and alleviate jaw pain. By seeking professional guidance and following a comprehensive treatment plan, individuals can find relief and regain control over their oral health and overall well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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