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Got Jaw Pain on One Side Only? Here’s What It Could Mean

May 3, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — holland @ 2:27 pm
Woman in blue shirt holding jaw in pain

Pain on only one side of your jaw can be alarming and confusing. Fortunately, however, it’s usually not a severe problem and may even go away on its own. In rare cases, though, jaw pain can be a sign of big trouble and require a trip to a doctor or emergency dentist. Here are a few of the most common causes of jaw pain on one side and how to know when you should seek professional treatment.

Common Causes of Jaw Pain

Common causes of jaw pain on one side include the following:

1. Sinusitis

Are you prone to catching colds? Inflammation of the sinus cavities behind your cheeks can cause pain on one or both sides of your jaw. Sinus inflammation, also known as sinusitis, can be caused by common colds, bad allergies, and certain medical conditions. In many cases, sinusitis clears up on its own. However, you should consider contacting your doctor if you have experienced jaw pain and other symptoms such as nasal congestion for more than one week.  

2. TMJ Disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located at the point where your jaw meets the upper skull on either side of your head. You use this unique joint every time you talk, chew, laugh, or yawn. Problems that affect the TMJ are collectively known as temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMD. While determining the exact cause of TMD can be tricky, health experts believe the following issues often play a part:

  • Grinding or clenching teeth
  • Jaw infection or injury
  • Damage to the cartilage in the joint
  • Tooth damage or misalignment
  • Arthritis

3. Dental Problems

Jaw pain on one side can often be traced to various dental or oral health issues, such as:

  • Tooth decay or gum disease
  • Tooth grinding (also known as bruxism)
  • An abscessed tooth
  • Growth of wisdom teeth
  • Missing or misaligned teeth

When to See a Doctor or Dentist

Mild jaw pain often doesn’t require professional treatment. If your pain is caused by grinding teeth due to stress, you can try relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. You can also hold a heating pad against your cheek to relax your jaw muscles and relieve aches and stiffness.

However, you should contact a doctor or dentist if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms along with pain in your jaw:

  • Difficulty eating, drinking, swallowing, or breathing
  • Swelling or a fever that won’t go away
  • Pain that makes it difficult to move your mouth normally
  • Severe pain that suddenly goes away after a burst of salty liquid that tastes and smells unpleasant.

Even mild jaw pain can be a major inconvenience and negatively impact your quality of life. If you suspect your jaw pain is connected to your temporomandibular joint, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist.

About the Author

Dr. Christopher Holland has over 30 years of experience helping patients overcome dental problems, including jaw pain. The award-winning dentist has been named one of America’s Best Dentists by the National Consumer Advisory Board. To learn more about what causes jaw pain on one side and how to treat it, visit the New Image Dentistry website or call 210-804-1558.

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