What’s Causing My Jaw Pain: 5 Potential Underlying Causes

Many people have experienced having a throbbing pain in their jaw that seems to have come from nowhere. It could start as mild discomfort, which becomes worse over time, or can strike immediately. No matter the cause, this kind of inflammation could be debilitating and interfere with your daily activities.

Treating it may not be as easy as taking pain medicine.  It is important to get the right dental diagnosis in order to treatment for your symptoms properly. 

Teeth grinding

One of the leading causes of jaw pain is grinding. This condition causes severe tooth damage; when you clench your teeth outside of chewing, it puts undue pressure on your enamel, radiating to the bone. For some, grinding occurs as a stress response, and they might clench their jaw unconsciously. For many, grinding happens when they are asleep, which makes preventing it even more challenging. 

When you don’t address grinding, it can cause other issues. Wearing a mouthguard, practicing mindfulness or stress-relieving exercises, and other lifestyle adjustments can help you prevent grinding.

Temporomandibular disorder

TMD or temporomandibular disorder affects a particular joint in the jaw. Apart from inflammation, TMD can cause a clicking sound when chewing or opening the mouth. In extreme cases, the condition could cause the jaw to lock open or closed.

Abscessed tooth

When you leave cavities untreated for an extended period, it can lead to abscessed teeth. Abscess comes from infections in the dental pulp or nerve, and the bacteria from infections could spread from the tooth to surrounding tissues, which causes jaw pain. Prevent infections by having dental exams and treating cavities as soon as possible.

Other tooth issues

Apart from these conditions, there are other reasons why you could experience jaw pain. Gum disease and cavities are also possible sources of infection, which results in an abscess. Plenty of these issues do not affect the bone directly but causes pain nonetheless.

People with gaps in their teeth, damaged enamel, and misaligned or impacted wisdom teeth can experience jaw pain when chewing or biting. Good oral health and regular trips to the dentist reduces the likelihood of you experiencing these things. Wisdom teeth surgery, dental implants, and other cosmetic treatments can help with gaps, misalignment, and tooth damage.


Jaw pain is no joke. There are many reasons why a person could experience it, from physical issues to bacterial ones, and you need to know why you have jaw pain to treat it properly. When you observe symptoms, it is best to go to a dental health specialist. They can put you on a treatment plan that addresses your specific case.

Be free from jaw pain, and get back your winning smile when you consult our specialists at Southview Dentistry. We are in Charlotte, NC, and we provide a range of dental treatments to address all sorts of issues. Book an appointment today or contact us for other inquiries!