young woman with pain in the jaw

Common Causes of Jaw Pain

  • Common causes of jaw pain are teeth grinding (or bruxism), TMJ disorder, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) injury, or arthritis and infection
  • Teeth grinding can be caused by stress, anxiety, sleep disorders, medication side effects, or a misaligned bite.
  • Treatment for teeth grinding includes lifestyle changes and wearing a mouthguard while sleeping.
  • Impacted wisdom teeth can cause jaw pain, so prompt removal is essential.
  • TMJ disorder is complex and may be caused by teeth or jaw misalignment, arthritis, or bruxis. 

Jaw pain is a common issue that various factors can cause. It can range from mildly irritating to debilitating, making speaking or eating comfortably difficult. This blog post will take an in-depth look at the most common causes of jaw pain and their solutions to get back to feeling your best.

There are many reasons why you may be experiencing jaw pain. Still, some common causes include teeth grinding, TMJ disorder, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) injury or arthritis, and infection. Here’s a closer look at each one.

Teeth grinding (or bruxism)

Teeth grinding, or bruxism is when the upper and lower teeth rub together forcefully during sleeping or awake periods. It can happen involuntarily while asleep or awake, such as when you’re concentrating on something or during stressful situations. The constant strain of teeth clenching can cause severe issues with your oral health if left unaddressed.

What Causes Teeth Grinding?

man with eyeglasses clenching his teeth

The exact cause of bruxism isn’t always clear; however, some of the most common contributing factors are stress, anxiety, sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea, side effects from certain medications and drugs (such as Adderall), misaligned bite (malocclusion), alcohol use disorder and caffeine intake.

Some people may even grind their teeth due to genetics or an unconscious habit they picked up when they were younger. In any case, if you’re experiencing chronic jaw pain or discomfort due to clenching your teeth for long periods throughout the day or night, it’s essential to consult with an orthodontist who can help diagnose the root cause of the issue and provide treatment options that are best suited for you.

How To Stop Teeth Grinding

Several methods are often used to help treat bruxism, including lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, quitting smoking, and avoiding caffeine or alcohol. Additionally, your dentist may suggest wearing a mouthguard while sleeping to help prevent teeth grinding or clenching.

The guard will act as a cushion for the teeth, protecting them from damage due to grinding and clenching. If misaligned bites contribute to your bruxism, an orthodontic treatment such as braces or Invisalign can help correct the misalignment and reduce the risk of teeth grinding.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth often cause jaw pain because they don’t have enough room in the jaw to erupt correctly. When this happens, it can cause pressure on adjacent teeth and result in swelling, soreness, discomfort, or pain in the jaw area.

Prompt wisdom teeth removal is essential, especially if they are causing any discomfort or pain in the jaw area. Your dentist can determine if wisdom teeth removal is necessary, and they can refer you to an oral surgeon who can perform the procedure safely and effectively.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder

TMJ disorder is a complex condition that affects the temporomandibular joint and the muscles that control it. It can cause many symptoms, including pain, stiffness, clicking or popping sounds when opening and closing the mouth, jaw locking, and even headaches.


The exact cause of TMJ disorder is unknown, but many factors may contribute to its development. These include misalignment of the teeth or jaw, arthritis, teeth grinding or clenching during sleep (bruxism), physical injury to the face or jaw area, and stress. It can sometimes be caused by an underlying medical condition such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia.


patient explaining to dentist her jaw pain

You must visit your dentist for a diagnosis if you suspect you have TMJ disorder. Your dentist will perform a physical examination to assess your jaw function and check for any signs of inflammation or tenderness in your jaw area. They may also ask you questions about your overall health history and how often you experience pain and other symptoms related to TMJ disorder.

Injury or arthritis

Injury or arthritis of the temporomandibular joint can cause severe discomfort in the jaw area and headaches, neck pain, earache, and dizziness. Depending on the severity of your injury or the level of arthritis present, treatment may involve anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen; physical therapy; steroid injections, or a combination thereof.

It’s important to note that not all jaw pain is caused by these issues mentioned above—it could also be related to dental problems like cavities—but these are some of the most common culprits behind persistent discomfort in this area of our bodies.

If you’re experiencing frequent bouts of jaw pain, make sure you visit a doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating oral health issues, so they can get you back on track toward living without any unnecessary suffering!

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