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Causes of Jaw Pain and Ways to Relieve It

Jaw pain can be excruciating and uncomfortable. Sometimes it starts as a mild pain that becomes more intense with time. Or it can hit you all of a sudden, catching you off-guard. Symptoms of jaw pain vary depending on what is causing it. It can be caused by a simple toothache, or something more serious like a heart attack, prompting you to seek immediate jaw pain relief.

The jaw is what holds your gums and teeth, and it can be infected if not properly cleaned. It can also be sensitive to pressure, heat, or cold. And with the jawbone connecting your skull at the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), it is highly likely that you’ll feel jaw pain in your ears, mouth, teeth, and at the side of your cheek.

What Causes Jaw Pain?

Many factors contribute to jaw pain, including;

  • An Abscessed Tooth–An abscessed tooth can result from an infected nerve or dental pulp. When you leave your dental cavity untreated for a long time, bacteria can spread from the root of your tooth and affect nearby bone tissues, leading to throbbing jaw pain.
  • Temporomandibular Disorder – TMD usually affects your jaw’s temporomandibular joint causing pain. Sometimes your jaw will make a clicking sound when you chew or open your mouth. At times your jaw will get stuck in a closed or open position.
  • Osteomyelitis – This is a rare infection that affects your bones and the nearby tissues. The infection can be caused by dental surgery or an injury to your mouth or an underlying dental health issue. The infection may spread and cause intense jaw pain, swelling in your jaw, face, or teeth, fever, redness in the affected area, bad breath, fatigue, or numbness in your mouth, lips, or jaw.
  • Grinding Your Teeth – Teeth grinding damages your teeth. When you grind your teeth, probably because of stress, you invite dental issues, including jaw pain.
  • Dental Conditions – Jaw pain can be due to other dental conditions such as cavities, tooth decay, misaligned or missing teeth, gum disease, or a growing wisdom tooth. These issues may not directly affect your jaw, but the pain can be felt in the jaw area.
  • Cluster Headaches – The headaches can be excruciating and often occur in patterns, affecting areas around your temple, eyes, and the jaw.

How to Relieve Jaw Pain

Doctors provide jaw pain relief and treatment according to the causal factors. But they’ll first give you non-invasive jaw pain remedies to help ease your pain and discomfort as they try to determine the cause.  You can also perform the remedies from home before visiting your dentist.

Here are some of the medical treatment options for jaw pain;

  • If your jaw pain is due to a dental infection, your tooth will be extracted or given a root canal.
  • For a TMJ disorder, the doctor will give you a mouthguard to wear on your lower and upper teeth. This will help you relieve the sudden jaw pain by relaxing the strained muscles and joints.
  • Muscle Relaxants – These medications will relieve the strain and stress in your muscles, causing the jaw pain when opening your mouth to subside.
  • Anti-Viral Therapy – If the cause of your jaw pain right side is due to a viral infection like the Herpes Zoster, the dentist will prescribe an antiviral therapy.
  • Orthodontic Treatment – This is an effective treatment for the jaw pain into the ear caused by a malaligned tooth.
  • Steroid Injection – You’ll receive a steroid injection if your jaw pain from wisdom teeth is caused by severe swelling.

Home Remedies for Jaw Pain

Here’s how to relieve jaw pain from home as you plan to see your dentist;

Over-The-Counter Medicines

Over-the-counter pain medicines such as muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, and analgesics can relieve your jaw pain and discomfort.

Using Cold Compress or Heat Packs

You can cold compress the painful area for 10 to 20 minutes each day using an ice pack or improvising by wrapping ice cream in a plastic bag. You can apply it four times every day for immediate results. Do the same using a moist heat pack to relax the strained muscles.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can relax your muscles and reduce their soreness, helping you relieve the discomfort from sudden jaw pain, especially if caused by a muscle strain.

Eating Soft Foods

Eating soft foods for about a week will help to reduce the stress on the TMJ and jaws. The discomfort will lessen as well as the sudden jaw pain and swelling.


Apply a gentle massage in a circular motion on the painful areas using the index and middle fingers. This will help in jaw pain relief from joint-related pain and neck tensions.

What Do I Do to Stop My Jaw From Hurting?

Apply a cold compress or heat pack or use over-the-counter pain-relieving medicine for immediate relief. Otherwise, you have to see your orthodontist to determine the cause of the jaw pain and administer the right treatment.

Which Is The Best Medicine For Jaw Pain?

Your dentist will only prescribe the best medicine for your jaw pain after determining its cause. The best immediate action to take at this time is to see the dentist for a diagnosis.

Will Jaw Pain Go Away?

Jaw pain eventually goes away after receiving treatment. Your doctor may recommend pain medicine, muscle relaxants, dietary changes, physical therapy, or other self-care practices to ease the pain, depending on what is causing your jaw pain.

When Should I See A Doctor About Jaw Pain?

Immediately your home remedies don’t relieve your jaw pain, you should seek the doctor’s attention. Many types of jaw pain are caused by temporomandibular joint disorders and may need immediate attention from your doctor. A serious underlying condition can cause severe jaw pain, which will require a diagnosis and immediate treatment.

What Happens If TMJ Is Left Untreated?

If left untreated, TMJ escalates the pain and forces you to get medical intervention. You’ll also experience other medical conditions such as eating disorders, malnutrition, depression, and debilitating jaw or neck pain.

Your oral health will deteriorate, leading to tooth decay, physical tooth trauma, or gum disease. In the end, your hearing will deteriorate (tinnitus) because of the affected muscles and joints close to your ears. Untreated TMJ also damages your jaw joints permanently, preventing you from opening or closing your jaw.


Jaw pain is not a condition to take lightly. A painful jaw can result from different conditions, and self-care practices and solutions may fail to provide the relief you need. Seek medical attention right away to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.

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