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What Jaw Pain Means: What Causes It and How to Treat It

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Your jaw could hurt for many reasons such as a TMJ Disorder, a toothache, or a more serious condition. Today our dentists in Whitehorse discuss the different reasons why your jaw could be hurting and how you can manage the pain.

The Causes of Jaw Pain

If you are feeling pain in your jaw it could be a sign of a d TMJ Disorder, a dental problem such as a toothache, or a more severe issue.

TMJ Disorders

TMJ Disorder is one of the most common causes of jaw pain. The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull (located just underneath your temple, in front of your ear). This hinge has a key part in your everyday life because it lets you eat, breathe, and talk.

People develop TMJ Disorders when they have a problem with their jaw and facial muscles. If the condition advances into a more severe state after you begin feeling pain in this part of your body, you might get to a point where you won't be able to move the joint.

Here is a list of the possible causes of TMJ Disorders:

  • Misalignment of the jaw
  • Injury to the jaw
  • Inflammation in the muscles surrounding your jaw
  • Certain conditions or illnesses such as arthritis

The possible symptoms of TMJ Disorders are:

  • Pain or ache around your jaw, face, or ears
  • Locking or popping in your jaw
  • Ringing in ears
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems

If you believe that you may have a problem with your TMJ, contact your dentist who should be able to recommend exercises or treatment. Sometimes, people may require prescription drugs or surgery may be required to help correct the issue.


Though we take many routine vaccines in childhood that have fortunately gotten rid of diseases, it’s still possible to have a disease that could cause jaw pain and other symptoms.

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can cause your jaw muscles to stiffen or feel tight. This serious could lead to spending weeks in hospital.


Just like other bones in your body, your jaw can become fractured or dislocated. After taking a blow to the jaw, you may experience:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Bruises

Depending on the injury, you may need to see your dentist if the pain doesn’t go away, you are missing teeth or you’re unable to chew or open and close your mouth. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen may help, in addition to dental treatment if necessary.

Dental Issues

A variety of dental issues can lead to a sore jaw. These can include:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Fractured or crowded teeth
  • Toothache (typically with an abscess or cavity as the underlying cause)
  • Gum disease (which can cause your jaw bone to become damaged)
  • Wisdom teeth erupting

These problems should be addressed as soon as possible, and fractured teeth are dental emergencies, so you should see your dentist right away. Until then, keep the tooth that hurts clean and try rinsing with warm water.

Cysts or Tumors

Not typically cancerous, odontogenic cysts or tumors can quickly begin to impact your teeth. Surgery may be required to remove them.

Cluster Headaches

One of the most painful types of headache, cluster headaches can result in pain around or behind one eye, with pain radiating to reach the jaw.


A type of infection that occurs in the bone, this condition can impact your mandible (lower jaw). Referred to as anaerobic osteomyelitis, it can cut off blood supply to your jaw and damage bone tissue if left untreated.

How To Get Rid of Eye Pain

At-Home Care

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
  • Apply a warm, wet washcloth or ice pack covered in cloth to your jaw (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off)
  • Avoid caffeine (which can potentially contribute to muscle tension).
  • Rub the affected joint. Massage the joint using your fingers, pressing the sore areas of your jaw and moving to the side of your neck.

Dental Care

If your jaw pain persists after at-home remedies, make an appointment with your dentist.

A dental professional should be able to discuss your symptoms with you, complete a comprehensive oral examination, explain possible treatment options, and develop a custom treatment plan that may include a mouthguard or other measures depending on your needs. 

In rare cases, oral surgery for TMJ Disorder may be recommended to correct the problem for those with severe pain that suffer from structural problems in their jaw and haven’t found relief with other remedies or treatments.

Contact our Whitehorse dentists if you are suffering from jaw pain and schedule an appointment today.

Questions about our services? Ready to book an appointment?

Contact Klondyke Dental Centre today.

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(867) 668-3152