Why does my jaw hurt?

does my jaw hurt on one side
does my jaw hurt on one side

Why does my jaw hurt?

Jaw pain could be devastating and could trigger several bouts of emotions, from anger to sadness, to hopelessness. Jaw pain could affect your ability to do the things you do with your entire jaw region, like speak and eat.

I remember when I had begun exercising in our local gym, just a few blocks from my house. I woke up with this sudden pain in my jaw, it just wouldn’t go. I was scared and blamed it so much on the weight I was lifting.

To be honest, none of the barbells and dumbbells were to be blamed for this pain that just wouldn’t leave. After an appointment with my doctor, I realized there was not so much to worry about.

Jaw pain is really not a cause for alarm. Most of us make a big deal about it, but in reality, we do not have to fret too much.

A thousand and one things may pop in your head as the cause of jaw pain. You may likely worry about oral or dental issues such as an abscessed tooth, cavity or maybe wonder if you have been applying excessive pressure on your body while lifting weight or heavy objects.

It could be that the stress associated with the Covid -19 pandemic is responsible for the jaw pain you are experiencing. Most dentists reported jaw pain is associated with stress, infection, tooth grinding and sinus issues.

Since the corona virus is responsible for aches and body pains, jaw pain is regarded as a side effect or symptom of the virus. But, it’s best to consult a doctor before self-diagnosing as it is a rare cause of jaw pain.

Most times, we encounter jaw pain when opening the mouth, jaw pain while chewing or even while grinding the teeth.

does my jaw hurt on one side
does my jaw hurt on one side

There are several causes of jaw pain on one side. In this article, we will answer questions like why does my jaw hurt on one side, causes of jaw pain, symptoms of jaw pain, and more.

Get ready to be enlightened!!!

When Should I be Worried About Jaw Pain?

Although jaw pain is not really a thing of urgent concern, it could trigger serious health complications- which is rare.

Most times, jaw pain could be an early sign of a heart attack. If the symptoms listed below comes alongside jaw pain, then, it’s possible you may be facing a heart attack:

  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Pressure or pain in your chest that disappears after you have rested but eventually reappears.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Cold sweats
  • Pressure, pain, or tightness in your chest and arms that spread to your jaw, neck, back and stomach
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness

The above symptoms could probably take time to develop or might develop suddenly under days or even few hours. You should be worried if any of these symptoms comes with jaw pain. Seek emergency treatment and visit a hospital close to you.

Causes of Jaw Pain

There are several causes of jaw pain. Most times, the pain could arise as a result of an abnormality or a wound in the jaw region. This wound could be due to an injury to the joint of the jaw.

The causes of joint pain include

  1. Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMD)

TMD is the leading and most common cause of jaw pain. Also known as TMJ, it is a hinge joint connecting your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, located just in front of each ear.

A disc separates the bones in the joint and aids easy movement. If the disc becomes damaged or changes it normal position, something is definitely up and this could cause you to experience pain and some symptoms of jaw pain on one side or both sides.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is responsible for the movement of the jaw up and down, side to side, hence, facilitating chewing, yawning and talking.

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) occur when the ability to carry out some functions associated with the jaw and muscle in your face is impaired.

There are various causes of TMD and being aware of these causes can help prevent TMD and eventually, jaw pain. The causes of the temporomandibular joint disorder include

  • Excessive stimulation of the jaw joint
  • Stress, which can cause clenching or grinding the teeth and tightening the facial muscles
  • Damage to the tissue
  • Damage to the cartilage in the joint
  • Infection or injury in the jaw.
  • Arthritis

The symptoms of TMD include

  • Earache
  • Tenderness around the jaw
  • Difficulty in opening the mouth or closing it if the joint locks
  • Pain while opening the mouth or when chewing.
  • Swelling on the side of your face

If you have symptoms of the temporomandibular joint disorder, see your doctor to define and treat the underlying cause.

does my jaw hurt on one side
does my jaw hurt on one side
  1. Sinusitis

When there is an inflammation in your nasal cavity, sinusitis occurs. Inflammation could be due to cold, allergies or even medical conditions.

This relates to jaw pain when your sinus cavity, located behind your cheeks is inflamed (infected with a germ like virus or bacteria). Once the sinus cavity is inflamed, you may feel pain in your jaw on one side or both sides.

This is because, the sinus is an air-filled cavity and inflammation could cause an excessive leakage of mucus that puts pressure on the joint of the jaw, leading to pain.

Symptoms of sinusitis include

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Pain, pressure and swelling in the face
  • Nasal congestion accompanied with difficult breathing

If your symptoms last for more than one week, we advise you see a doctor.

  1. Dental issues

Most times, issues with your tooth can cause severe jaw pain. Common dental or oral problems that could trigger jaw pain include:

  • Clenching or grinding of the tooth
  • Tooth cavity
  • Tooth decay or gum disease
  • Growth of wisdom tooth
  • Abscessed tooth

If you experience any of the symptoms below alongside jaw pain, then, the dental issue just might be the cause of your jaw pain.

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Mouth odor
  • Painful and bleeding gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Toothache that appears and disappears

Rare Causes

The causes of temporomandibular joint disorder listed below are rare, they are not even common. But when they occur, they normally lead to jaw pain on one side.

If none of the common causes listed above are responsible for jaw pain, your doctor may want to analyze the following rare causes of jaw pain.

does my jaw hurt on one side
  1. Trigeminal neuralgia

This condition occurs when there is abnormal pressure on the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve helps to facilitate movement in the jaw muscles and transmit sinuses and mucous membrane in the face.

When there is abnormal pressure on this nerve, its function could be impaired.

The most common symptom of this condition is severe pain on one side of your face. Other symptoms that may occur include:

  • Pain that feels like a constant ache or burns
  • Pain in the lower cheek, mouth or jaw
  • Shooting or shocking like sensation around the face
  • Twitching in the face
  • Pain while slowly or quickly moving the facial muscles or touching the face
  1. Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is a rare cause of jaw pain but is a severe kind of bone infection that occurs when bacteria penetrates into the bone.

Your jawbone can become infected by bacteria in different ways. It could be after dental surgery, mouth injury or severe dental problems.

If you have any of the symptoms below along with jaw pain, then, you have osteomyelitis and need to consult a doctor.

  • Fever
  • Mouth odor
  • Warmth or redness around the painful area
  • Fatigue
  • Severe pain in your jaw
  • Difficulty in opening and closing the mouth
  • Numb feeling in your mouth, jaw and lips.
does my jaw hurt on one side
does my jaw hurt on one side

How Can I Relieve Jaw Pain?

If the pain in your jaw is mild and does not come with troubling symptoms, there is no point for medical treatment or a visit to a doctor’s office.

You could use any of these tips to relieve jaw pain. In cases where your pain and symptoms are severe, we advise you seek immediate medical attention.

  • Try heat, heat is one of the methods people use to relieve pain and stiffness. If your jaw pain is mild, you could use a hot towel or steam to relax your muscles and relieve jaw pain.


  • Ice or cold compresses is a got to: As long as you have ice in your fridge, you can apply it on the painful area. Ice or cold compresses help to numb pain and reduce swelling.


  • Do not Overwork your Jaw: Constantly putting your jaw to work can stress it out and increase pain. Rest your jaw by choosing foods that require minimal chewing so you do not stress out your jaw muscles.


  • Massage the Jaw: If you can afford a physical therapist or massage therapy, then try it. Massaging the jaw can help to relieve pain and reduce tension in your jaw.


  • Adjust your Sleeping Posture: If you normally sleep in a position that adds pressure to your jaw, it’s time to switch. This will help to reduce pain and tension in your jaw. Sleep on the side that doesn’t hurt.


  • Go O-T-C: Using over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can relieve pain and reduce other symptoms. Try to follow the proper dosage indicated on the drugs’ pack. If the recommended dosage doesn’t relieve your pain, consult your doctor first before self-medicating.


Jaw pain is really not a cause for alarm, but you should see your doctor if it occurs with severe symptoms. These symptoms could mean there is a serious health condition lurking around in your body.

We advise you see a doctor immediately if:

  • There is constant swelling or fever
  • You have difficulty in eating, breathing, talking, or swallowing
  • Extreme pain

If you have jaw pain with any of the symptoms listed in this article, then, either dental issues, osteomyelitis or temporomandibular joint disorder may be the cause of your jaw pain.