Why Does My Jaw Hurt?

Causing pain and discomfort to 1 in 4 Americans, jaw pain is often referred to as the quiet offender. There is a multitude of issues that can lead to jaw pain; headaches, grinding your teeth at night, frequent jaw clenching, are just to name a few. A history of trauma could be indicative of this type of pain. In whiplash cases, where the head has overextended because of a car accident or bad fall, the jaw could get impacted which will then result in pain.

Jaw Pain

When you are suffering from pain in your jaw, the diagnosis may most likely attribute it to Temporomdandibular Disorder (TMD). While multiple jaw issues cause this condition, it’sn not always the cause of pain in the jaw. As a matter of fact, jaw pain can be an indication of a lot of other serious health issues. If you are experiencing pain in the jaw for more than a day or if the pain is debilitating, you should get a health checkup right away.

The most common medical issues associated with jaw pain include:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Infections
  • Bad bite
  • Overuse of the jaw
  • Heart conditions
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Physical injuries

Teeth Grinding

When you grind your teeth in your sleep, it can put an extreme amount of pressure on the jaws. Since teeth grinding usually occurs when you’re asleep, other muscle groups around the jaw area can also be impacted by the grinding. Consult with your dentist, and see what the best sleeping device is to stop teeth grinding.
Your bite pattern, or the way your teeth are aligned, may lead to jaw pain if they are not aligned properly. The misalignment can make for uneven wear which contributes to pains in your jaw. In many cases, a misaligned bite pattern can be solved with braces or other similar dental devices that can reshape the bite.

Many people kid about overusing the jaw. However, it can be quite a serious health issue. Chewing gum for long periods of time can damage the jaw and lead to constant, unnerving pain. The chewing motion makes the jaw overworked. By simply giving your jaw a rest and refraining from chewing gum is the straightforward solution to this issue.


The pressure in your sinus cavity due to the sinuses being blocked can lead to pain and discomfort in the jaw area. Additionally, sinus infections often lead to ear infections if they don’t get checked and treated right away.

Ear Infection

Ear infections, as mentioned above, is another indicator of jaw pain. Due to the location of the ears in the body, the swelling because of the infection can quickly travel to the jaw area and make it painful. The tubes found behind the jaw can also get sore when they are infected, signaling pain in the jaw area, and not necessarily the jaw hurting.

An abscessed or infected tooth is also a massive contributor to pain in the jaw. If you have an infected tooth or gum, the pain and infections can quickly travel down the jaw area. This fact is particularly true for abscessed teeth, no matter where they are in the jaw.
If you think that your jaw pain is associated with any type of infection, then you should get immediate medical attention. Infections shouldn’t be left untreated as they can lead to more severe health risks.

Heart Conditions

While it may be a rare manifestation, constant or dull pain in the lower left part of the jaw may be the first signs of heart trouble. Similar to chest pains exhibiting from the left side of the chest and the left arm, heart pains also manifest in the lower left jaw, particularly in women. If you are suffering from any type of pain on the left side of your lower jaw, especially if you have a history of heart ailments, then seek immediate care.


The jaw is a joint; thus, it can get certain joint diseases. When you hear ‘osteoarthritis,’ you often associate it with people experiencing discomfort and pain in their hips, knees, shoulders, or elbows. However, osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, and that’s including the jaw. Your doctor would have to check for other symptoms to confirm this type of diagnosis. If it is, then there is a number of joint treatments that your doctor can recommend you.