Woman holding her jaw and having jaw pain.

You don’t think about it much, but your jaw does a lot of things. It helps you chew, swallow, speak, communicate through facial expressions, breath, and even gives shape and structure to your face. Keeping your jaw healthy is important. And when your jaw starts to cause you pain, you feel it.

Causes of Jaw Pain

Chronic jaw pain affects more than 10 million Americans, and if you add acute pain to that, it is even harder to pinpoint exactly how many people are suffering from jaw-related issues. Unfortunately, there is no one answer to what causes jaw pain. But the good news is, if you get to the bottom of your pain, there are solutions.

TMD (TMJ Disorders)

TMD is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint or the joint which holds your jaw to your skull. This joint acts as a hinge, allowing your jaw to open and close. Common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Jaw Pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain

TMD can result from a number of different causes. These root causes may be tooth grinding or clenching, injury or trauma, a displaced disc, arthritis of the joint, or a muscular problem, to name just a few.

Treatments for TMD vary based on the underlying cause of your particular case. This is why it is important to see an expert, such as your dentist, when you have jaw pain with no known explanation. We can help you get to the bottom of your TMD and guide you to treatments that help to ease your pain.

Tooth Grinding

Tooth grinding or clenching, referred to as bruxism, can trigger TMD or can cause jaw pain on its own. Not only can this disrupt your life, but it can also affect your tooth and gum health. Tooth grinding can wear away protective tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay and even periodontal disease.

Bruxism can be treated in several ways, depending on your particular case. Sometimes it is caused by stress, and when you tackle your stress and anxiety, grinding or clenching will ease. Often, however, tooth grinding happens at night. Your dentist may recommend a night guard to protect your teeth and ease your pain. Botox injections are another highly effective option for treating both bruxism and TMD.

Misaligned Teeth

A crooked smile is not only a cosmetic concern. Tooth misalignment can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease, and – you guessed it – jaw pain. Misaligned teeth can put strain on both the temporomandibular joint and the jaw itself. In fact, this is one of the most common causes of jaw pain out there, and most patients don’t realize it.

Invisalign treatment is an option for many patients with alignment issues. While Invisalign continues to grow in popularity with all age groups, adults, in particular, love this treatment as it is discrete and effective.


When we think of cavities, we think of a toothache. However, cavities, particularly if they are severe, can cause pain to radiate into the jaw. Furthermore, if a cavity goes untreated, you can develop an abscess below the gumline. This can be a painful and dangerous situation. If you believe you may have a cavity that has progressed to the point of jaw pain, get treatment right away. Not only will treating your cavity relieve your pain, but it may save you from a more serious infection.

Windom Teeth

If you are between the ages of 17 to 25, wisdom teeth might be to blame for your jaw pain. It is very common for there to simply not be enough room for wisdom teeth to develop. When this occurs, they can come in at odd angles and push on the other teeth. Having your wisdom teeth removed will often alleviate associated jaw and tooth pain. The sooner you see your dentist to confirm this suspicion, the better.

Finding Answers for Your Jaw Pain

If you are experiencing jaw pain, contact our office right away. Getting to the root cause of your discomfort is the first step to a pain-free, healthy jaw and smile.