Why Does My Jaw Hurt So Much? 3 Different Possibilities

You can get relief from jaw pain

Have you ever woken up to intense pain in your jaw? Perhaps it is a dull ache that won’t go away. Or, maybe it is more severe, an ever-present pain that affects your ability to concentrate or enjoy daily activities. However bad your jaw pain is, the chances are that you want to understand what is causing it. And, even more so, you want that jaw pain to disappear.

Why does my jaw hurt so much?

Let’s start by getting to the root of the situation and answer the burning question: why does my jaw hurt so much? The answer could come from a variety of reasons. But, finding the root cause of your jaw pain may be the beginning of the solution to your particular situation. Jaw pain can be caused by something as simple as a toothache, but it can also signify health problems that need more attention. 

Your jawbone is two bones: the maxilla and the mandible. The maxilla is the upper part and does not have any movement. The mandible, the lower portion, can move and is connected to your skull by a pair of joints referred to as your temporomandibular joints (TMJs). Your TMJs sit right in front of your ears and are what enable you to open and close your mouth to eat and speak. Your jawbone also holds your teeth and gums.

Your TMJs feel the impact of various factors every day. All of these conditions can cause jaw pain. 

3 Most Likely Causes of Jaw Pain

#1 TMJ Jaw Pain Cause — Stress and Anxiety

Stress can cause us to clench and grind our teeth, sometimes even subconsciously. This constant pressure on the jaw can cause a loss of muscle control for the muscles that open and close the mouth. When the problem goes on untreated, your brain can literally forget the proper positioning and intended motions of your jaw. Take this and combine it with the physical effects that stress has on the rest of your body, and your jaw pain can quickly spread and cause other health issues.

If you feel stressed or anxious, you should discuss your situation with a medical care professional. Finding the root cause of your stress and anxiety can help you find the right strategies for mitigation, and can help you to feel better.

#2 TMJ Jaw Pain Cause — Bruxism

Bruxism occurs when you grind, gnash, or clench your teeth. When left untreated, bruxism can cause tooth fracture, headaches, mouth pain, and jaw pain. Further, muscle problems of the jaw and related joints can negatively impact chewing, cause a clicking sound, and restrict your range of motion (sometimes referred to as locked jaw). 

#3 TMJ Jaw Pain Cause — Dental Misalignment 

Dental misalignment, also referred to as a bad bite or malocclusion, can lead to TMJ pain. When your teeth do not fit together correctly, your muscles cannot reach their optimum rest position. As a result, when your mouth is closed, it causes stress on the soft and hard tissues of your jaw, thus leading to TMJ symptoms such as pain or tenderness in the jaw, pain in the temporomandibular joints, aching around or in the ear, difficulty chewing, facial pain, or lock jaw.

Treatment Options for TMJ Pain

Thankfully, you don’t have to live with jaw pain. By partnering with your dentist, you can get relief from your TMJ symptoms. Typical treatment for pain includes medications, therapies, or surgery.


Medications can be used to give you much-needed relief from jaw pain while you work on the underlying cause. Your dentist may prescribe pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, tricyclic antidepressants, or muscle relaxants.


Common non-drug therapies for TMJ pain include the prescription of an oral splint or mouth guard (occlusal appliance), physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles, or therapy to help the patient get to the root cause of their stress and anxiety.

Surgical procedures

Occasionally, jaw pain and discomfort can be significant enough to warrant a more substantial treatment. Surgical procedures and other therapies can include any one of the following:

  • Arthrocentesis removes debris and inflammatory byproducts from the joint. 
  • Botox injections into the jaw muscles used for chewing often relieve pain associated with pain.
  • TMJ arthroscopy to correct torn cartilage and damage to the surface of the joint.
  • Modified condylotomy if you are experiencing lock jaw. 
  • Open-joint surgery if your pain stems from a structural problem in the joint.

Your dentist in north Dallas, TX, can help provide relief for your TMJ jaw pain.

Hopefully, you have been able to answer the question: why does my jaw hurt? The next step is to work with your dentist in north Dallas, Texas, to help you get relief from your pain and discomfort. Request an appointment today with Dallas Cosmetic Dental and let Dr. Alhadef help you find long-lasting relief from your jaw pain.