What Could Be Causing Your Jaw Pain?

Frequent or chronic jaw pain can be tough to live with. The pain makes it hard to chew meat, pretzels, and other chewy or crunchy foods. Your jaw may pound as you try to fall asleep at night, and the pain may even distract you in meetings. So what should you do about ongoing jaw pain? See a dentist. They will evaluate your mouth and run some diagnostic tests to see what underlying conditions may be contributing to your jaw pain. Here are a few of the top possibilities.

Misaligned Teeth

If your teeth are misaligned, your jaw will not line up properly, either. Over time, this can put a strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments related to your jaw, which can lead to chronic jaw pain. Your dentist can pretty easily tell if your teeth are misaligned by looking at your smile and taking some x-rays. If your teeth do appear to be out of place, they may recommend any number of solutions. In mild cases, they may be able to file down a few teeth to adjust your bite, which will help ease your jaw pain. In more serious cases, they may recommend braces or invisible aligners to straighten your teeth, which should ease jaw pain over time. 

Grinding Your Teeth

Often, jaw pain arises because of tooth grinding. You may not know you grind your teeth because most patients do it at night while they are asleep. Grinding leaves the muscles around your jaw tired and sore when you wake up. A dentist can tell if you grind your teeth by examining their chewing surfaces. If your dentist does suspect that you grind your teeth, they will prescribe you a mouth guard to wear at night. After a week or so of wearing the mouth guard, you should find that your jaw pain is a lot less pronounced.


The joint between your jaw and temporal bone can develop arthritis, just like most other joints in your body. If you have trouble opening your jaw or experience pain when chewing, then arthritis could be to blame for your pain. A dentist can diagnose arthritis from x-rays. If you do have arthritis, your dentist will probably recommend taking NSAID pain relievers as needed and wearing a mouth guard to take the pressure off your jaw at night. Some patients also benefit from cortisone injections in the jaw joint.

If your jaw hurts a lot, don't just continue to live in pain! Visit your dentist so you can be assessed for the disorders above.