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

Jaw pain can be the result of a dental issue such as a toothache, TMJ Disorder, or perhaps a more serious condition. Today, our Weyburn dentists discuss possible reasons for jaw pain, and how it can be managed and treated.

What Can Lead to Jaw Pain

Jaw pain can be the result of a dental issue such as a toothache, TMJ Disorder, or perhaps a more serious condition.

TMJ Disorder

TMJ Disorder is one of the most common causes of jaw pain. The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull (located just below your temple, in front of your ear). This hinge plays a key role in your everyday life, allowing you to talk, breathe and eat.

TMJ Disorders occur when your facial and jaw muscles experience an issue. If the disorder progresses to a more severe state, you will start to experience pain in this area and may eventually be unable to move the joint altogether.

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 think you're experiencing a TMJ issue, talk to your dentist so they can recommend a treatment plan. You may also require prescription drugs or surgery to address the issue.


Even with the use of vaccinations, it’s still possible for us to contract diseases that can lead to jaw pain and other symptoms.

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can cause your jaw muscles to stiffen or feel tight. This serious condition can result in you spending weeks in the hospital.


Just like other bones in your body, your jaw can become fractured or dislocated. After experiencing trauma to the jaw, some common signs include:

  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Bruises
  • Pain
  • Swelling

If the pain doesn’t go away, you are missing teeth, or you’re unable to chew or open and close your mouth, It's likely time to visit the dentist. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen may help, in addition to any necessary dental treatment.

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 above issues should be addressed as soon as possible. Fractured teeth are dental emergencies, so immediate intervention from a dentist is more than necessary. Until you are able to see a dentist, keep the tooth that hurts clean and try rinsing with warm water.

Cysts or Tumours

Not typically cancerous, odontogenic cysts or tumours can quickly begin to impact your teeth. Surgery may be required to remove them.

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.


A type of infection that occurs in the bone, this condition can impact your mandible (lower jaw). Referred to as anaerobic osteomyelitis, it can cut off the blood supply to your jaw and damage bone tissue if left untreated.

Caring for Your Jaw Pain

At-Home Care

  • 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.
  • 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)

Dental Care

If at-home remedies aren't doing the trick, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

At Souris Family 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 could include a mouthguard or other measures depending on your needs. 

In rare cases, oral surgery for TMJ Disorder may be recommended to correct the problem for those with severe pain that suffer from structural problems in their jaw and haven’t found relief with other remedies or treatments.

If you are experiencing jaw pain, contact our Weyburn dentists to schedule an appointment.

New Patients Always Welcome

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

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(306) 842-8111