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

There are several oral health issues that can lead to someone experiencing jaw pain. In this post, our Oakville dentists explain the possible causes of jaw pain and how you can help your sore joints.

What May Be Causing Your Jaw Pain

Jaw pain can be due to a variety of dental issues including toothaches, TMJ Disorder, or possibly a more serious dental condition.

TMJ Disorders

Jaw pain is often associated with a condition called TMJ Disorder, which affects the temporomandibular joint. This joint connects your jaw to the temporal bones near your temple and enables important functions like talking, breathing, and eating.

TMJ Disorders arise when problems occur with the muscles in your face and jaw. If left untreated and allowed to advance, TMJ Disorder can result in restricted movement of the joint, making it difficult for you to use your jaw properly.

Causes of TMJ Disorders can include:

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

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder may include:

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

If you are at all concerned about your TMJ, see your dentist so they can suggest treatment or exercises. Sometimes, prescription drugs or surgery may be required to address the issue.


Even though we receive various childhood vaccinations that have successfully eradicated many diseases, there are still instances where certain diseases can cause jaw pain and other symptoms.

One such example is tetanus, which is a bacterial infection that can lead to stiffness or tightness in the jaw muscles. This condition is severe and may require weeks of hospitalization.


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

  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Bruises
  • Pain
  • Swelling

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:

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

The problems mentioned above should be addressed promptly, especially in the case of fractured teeth, as they are considered dental emergencies. It is advisable to seek immediate dental attention. In the meantime, make sure to keep the affected tooth clean and consider rinsing with warm water.

Cysts or Tumours

While they are not typically cancerous, odontogenic cysts or tumours can quickly begin to impact your teeth. It may be necessary to have them surgically removed.

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.


Anaerobic osteomyelitis is a type of bone infection that can affect the lower jaw, known as the mandible. If left untreated, it can compromise the blood supply to the jaw and cause damage to the bone tissue.

How You Can Get Rid of Your Jaw Pain

At-Home Care

  • 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.
  • Avoid caffeine (which can potentially contribute to muscle tension)
  • Apply a warm, wet washcloth or ice pack covered in cloth to your jaw (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off)
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Dental Care

If your jaw pain persists after attempting at-home remedies, it is time to see your dentist.

At River Oaks Dental, our dentists will 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. 

Are you experiencing jaw pain? Contact our Oakville dentists to book an appointment today.

New Patients Always Welcome

Looking for a dentist in Oakville? We're happily accepting new patients at our dental clinic! Contact us to get started today. 

Request Appointment
(905) 842-4406