Jaw Pain – Causes, Treatment

Jaw pain

The temporomandibular joint is one of the most stressed joints. It is always involved in eating, talking, yawning. Sometimes there is more or less severe jaw pain that affects those affected when eating, drinking and speaking.

What is jaw pain?

Jaw pain is understood to mean all types of pain that affect the jaw apparatus and are treated differently depending on their causes.

Jaw pain is torture for those affected. It usually lasts for weeks, if not months. They hinder chewing, speaking and even drinking. Most people then instinctively take painkillers , but a quick trip to the dentist would usually be much more suitable to get rid of the pain.

The jaw itself, which triggers the symptoms, is known to be divided into the upper and lower jaw. In the case of jaw pain, a jaw fracture or malposition should also be considered in the differential diagnosis.


One of the main causes of jaw pain is grinding at night . This causes the teeth to be pressed together, the chewing surfaces of the teeth to be severely worn and the chewing muscles to be put under excessive strain.

A viral or bacterial inflammation can be to blame for jaw pain if viruses or bacteria spread through the gums to the jaw and cause severe discomfort there due to the inflammation. Inflammation of the periodontal pockets can also spread to the jaw via the roots and cause severe jaw pain.

carious tooth can form a pus spot, a fistula, at the root. This focus spreads into the jaw and causes jaw pain. If left untreated, complications such as heart problems or kidney disease can follow and these organs can be severely damaged.

Misaligned teeth often lead to severe jaw pain, often originating from the wisdom teeth that press against other teeth from the jaw. A malocclusion can also cause persistent jaw pain, as can muscle tension in the jaw or head area.

Sudden jaw pain can also be a warning sign of a heart attack , especially if it occurs in the lower jaw area and the pain radiates down the left arm.

diseases with this symptom

  • tonsillitis

Diagnosis & History

Most jaw pain belongs in the hands of a doctor, dentist, or orthodontist . In the case of minor jaw joint problems, e.g. B. by crunching, a visit to the dentist is enough to clarify the cause. The dentist looks at the teeth, takes an X-ray and, if necessary, refers you to the orthodontist if there are problems caused by serious tooth misalignments.

Jaw pain below a single tooth, or tooth fistula, is diagnosed when a dentist examines the teeth and takes an x-ray to show the extent of the inflammation.

If a heart attack is suspected, you should call the emergency doctor immediately and position and calm the affected person appropriately. The emergency doctor performs an EKG and refers the patient to the nearest hospital, where a comprehensive EKG and initiation of treatment and monitoring takes place in the intensive care unit.


In the case of jaw pain, it is often necessary to consult a dentist. For many people, the very thought of it triggers fear and panic. They become hysterical and need psychological support. If you avoid going to the dentist because of your fear, the pain spreads. Mood is low and irritability sets in.

The jaw pain often leads to an impairment of the act of swallowing. Food intake and fluid intake are reduced. There is weight loss . In severe cases, life-threatening complications can result from an eating disorder or dehydration. Jaw pain is experienced as particularly intense. When taking painkillers, there is a risk of side effects such as gastrointestinal problems or addiction.

The pain often leads to insomnia . Jaw pain often triggers headaches and tension in the neck and neck. A treatment can last for several weeks. The pain may increase in intensity during this time. Jaw pain is not always completely cured.

Surgical interventions are possible if the jaw is misaligned. Wearing braces only leads to long-term changes over several years. In addition, there is an optical flaw. This is experienced as emotionally stressful, especially by patients who are of an adult age.

When should you go to the doctor?

Jaw pain should always be checked out by a professional. This is especially true in the case of particularly severe pain that radiates to the head and persists for a longer period of time. A doctor’s visit is also recommended for speech disorders or if swelling or inflammation in the jaw area can be observed alongside the pain. If extreme speech and chewing problems occur, an orthodontist must also be consulted. A misaligned wisdom tooth may be the cause, which can be quickly removed with medical help. Carious teeth can also be treated easily.

However, if left untreated, they can cause heart problems and kidney diseases. The complaints are often based on harmless tension, which can be treated with simple therapeutic measures. Acute, very severe jaw pain should be treated by an orthodontist or dentist . Patients with previous illnesses or malpositions should discuss any abnormalities in the jaw area with their family doctor . This also applies if no clear cause for the symptoms can be found. If there is severe pain in the lower jaw that radiates into the left arm, the emergency services must be called immediately.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of jaw pain depends on the cause. In the case of tension-related jaw pain, it is sufficient to loosen and relax the jaw through appropriate relaxation exercises or more frequent breaks. Misalignments are corrected by the orthodontist using braces that correct the misalignments. Painkillers should only ever be a short-term solution.

Bacterial inflammation is healed with an antibiotic so that the inflammation does not spread to the jaw and from there to other organs.

If a dental fistula has formed on a decayed tooth, the dentist first tries to heal the inflammation with an antibiotic. If that doesn’t help, a root tip resection is performed to drain the fistula or, as a last resort, the tooth is extracted if all else fails.

A heart attack is always treated in a clinic. The patient is transferred to the intensive care unit, where he is monitored around the clock. Depending on the cause and extent of the heart attack, stents , bypasses are placed or an operation is performed.

Outlook & Forecast

In the case of jaw pain, the cause must always be investigated. However, patients can also do something themselves for acute treatment. Jaw pain is often the result of grinding your teeth at night. In this case, a splint fitted by the dentist is helpful.

Heat can reduce pain in the jaw area. Damp, warm washcloths or infrared radiation are suitable. Red lights may only be used at a distance of 30 cm. A warm full bath can relax the whole body and thus reduce jaw pain. The more the jaw muscles are relieved, the better.

Pain patients should chew as little as possible and avoid long talk . Talking with your mouth wide open is also not beneficial for jaw pain. All balancing activities that distract from the daily routine or stressful activities relax and can also reduce pain. The health insurance companies and adult education centers offer numerous relaxation courses.

Light exercise helps relieve tension. Jaw problems are often caused by muscle hardening. Light exercises such as jaw circles are then helpful. Neck tension often leads to jaw pain. Simple exercises like crossing your hands behind your neck and pressing against the back of your head can loosen the neck again.

A direct pain point treatment on the outer cheek can also bring relief. The pain point is just in front of the ear, between the edge of the lower jaw and the cheekbone .


Jaw pain cannot always be completely avoided. In the case of tension, it often helps to reduce stress in order to relax the tense muscles. Serious misaligned teeth must be corrected by extensive orthodontic measures. Regular prophylaxis at least once a year and a healthy diet that is not too sugary help against tooth decay .

A healthy and not too stressful lifestyle helps reduce the risk of a heart attack because stress leads to high blood pressure and damages the heart. Dental fistulas can be prevented by regular visits to the dentist and a healthy diet. A bite splint made by a dentist helps with nighttime grinding .

You can do that yourself

If the jaw pain occurs after a visit to the dentist, it does not need to be treated immediately. Severe jaw pain can occur, especially after the removal of the wisdom teeth . These usually disappear after a few days. On the other hand, the patient can take painkillers and cool the affected area . If, in addition to jaw pain, other symptoms such as headaches, nausea or vomiting occur, a dentist should be consulted. In this case it is an infection. Painkillers should not be taken long term as they can cause damage to the stomach.

If the jaw pain is felt especially after waking up in the morning, it may be due to the teeth grinding. It is helpful to have a dental splint made by the dentist, which can be used to prevent nightly grinding. The jaw is also relieved and no longer hurts.

It is not uncommon for jaw pain to occur as a result of hard food or overuse of the jaw. Stress can also contribute to jaw pain. The patient should consciously reduce stress in everyday life and relax the jaw with soft food . Tension in the jaw often happens subconsciously. Here the patient himself must take care to relax the jaw in these moments. To do this, the tongue can be placed under the front teeth.

Lisa Newlon
 | Website

Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.