Jaw Pain

What are the main causes?

head and jaw painJaw pain is a common issue for many and yet most people don’t associate it with dental issues and don’t think to mention it to the dentist.

In fact, jaw pain and dental issues go hand-in-hand and one can cause the other.

If you are experiencing jaw pain you might be getting a wide range of potential symptoms in the jaw joint, such as:

  • Throbbing
  • Sharp pains
  • Earache
  • Headaches
  • Tingling
  • Aching

You might feel the pain when you eat or talk, or just all the time. It might have started all of a sudden or begun as mild discomfort and then developed over time. It could have begun after a certain procedure or injury. Understanding the cause of the problem is really important so you can get out of pain, and so that the problem doesn’t cause further issues with your jaw and other parts of the oral cavity.

Here are some causes of jaw pain and what they might feel like:

Clenching & Grinding Of The Teeth

Grinding and clenching of the teeth can happen when you sleep, are stressed, or when you are concentrating. Many people don’t realise that they clench or grind which is why many people may not know that is what is causing their jaw pain. If the issue is not treated it can lead to a wide variety of issues such as loose teeth, damaged teeth and jaw pain. As well as natural stress reduction, a protective night guard from Abbey Road Dental can help.

Temporomandibular Disorder

Temporomandibular disorder is also known as TMD and it is where the joint that holds the jaw to the skull is affected. This can cause the joint to hurt, to pop and click and to cause pain when chewing or talking. The issue can even cause the jaw to lock into different positions. The problem is often complex but can be relieved by pain killers, massage and other treatments.


Osteomyelitis is a bloodstream infection that can affect any bones and tissues in the body. When it happens to the jaw it can cause pain, swelling and other signs of infection. This condition, once diagnosed, is treated using antibiotics and sometimes the surgical removal of infected bone.

Dental Issues

Certain dental issues such as gum disease, abscesses or decay can result in jaw pain. The issues generally don’t affect the jaw but the pain can be referred to the jaw. Any bite issues or problems with damaged teeth, cross bites or other issues with the bite, can put extra stress on the jaw, causing pain.

Dental Abscesses

Abscessed teeth occur when the infection in the tooth has gone so deep that it spreads from the root of the tooth into the surrounding jaw bone. This kind of dental issue is an emergency, not only because it is incredibly painful, but also because if the abscess ruptures, the infection can spread to the bloodstream.

Jaw Cancer

Jaw cancer is rare but it can cause jaw pain. Some symptoms of jaw cancer are:

  • A lump on the roof of the mouth
  • A lump on the gum line
  • Jaw swelling inside or outside the mouth
  • Swelling beneath the teeth
  • Tooth mobility

All of these issues can have other causes but they should be looked at just in case there is a problem that needs quick attention.

What To Do If You Have Jaw Pain

The best thing you can do to avoid many causes of jaw pain is to maintain excellent oral care, including visiting the dentist every 6 months at our NW8 clinic. If you do find you have jaw pain and you aren’t sure why, it’s worth visiting Abbey Road Dental in St John’s Wood to have a chat about the problem. We can check your teeth, gums, soft tissues and jaw joint to check for any recognisable causes for the pain. If it is not an obvious dental issue, we can refer you to the hospital oral department, or your GP can refer you in extreme cases.

The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner a treatment plan can be made to alleviate the pain.

In the meantime you may find the following tips help with your jaw pain:

  • Take ibuprofen and paracetamol as directed by the manufacturers instructions and if you are suitable to do so
  • Place a warm compress on the affected area
  • Avoid eating hard foods or chewy foods
  • Try and avoid wide movements of the jaw like yawning
  • Try and avoid eating on one side of the mouth as that may exhaust the muscles on that side of the jaw
  • Massage the jaw joint area regularly

If you have jaw pain because of an injury it is important to seek help extremely quickly to ensure that you are treated appropriately. This is especially true if the problem is causing issues with swelling of the throat, breathing or bleeding.

Dental Treatments For Jaw Pain

In the instance that your jaw pain is because of a dental issue like an abscess, we can drain the abscess and either remove the tooth or perform root canal treatment if the tooth can be saved. If you have a bite issue you may need to see the orthodontist about a brace to correct your bite and relieve jaw pain. We can also create a bite guard for you to wear if we suspect the issue is because of grinding or clenching. We will always work to provide you the appropriate treatment for jaw pain or ensure you are referred to the right place for it if we cannot help directly.

Call Abbey Road Dental To Book An Appointment Today!

If you have jaw pain and want to check if it is something we can diagnose and help with, please call our team on 02076241603 to book an appointment at a time to suit you. We can often help with the relief of jaw pain, and where we can’t, we will be able to point you in the right direction to get a diagnosis.

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