Jaw Pain

Published: June 17, 2015
Last reviewed: January 3, 2018

Causes of Jaw Pain

Common causes of UPPER jaw pain include teeth problems and sinusitis.

Common causes of LOWER jaw pain include teeth problems, temporomandibular disorder, inflamed salivary glands and the pain radiating from the upper back, neck, ear or heart.

Coronary heart disease can cause pain on the LEFT side of the lower jaw. There are no known conditions that would cause pain exclusively on the RIGHT side of the jaw.

Problems with the teeth, ear, chewing and neck muscles, salivary glands, jaw bone, nerves and arteries usually cause pain on ONE side and problems arising from the sinuses or systemic infections, such as tetanus, on BOTH sides of the jaw.

Jaw Pain By Conditions:
  1. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
  2. Teeth problems
  3. Throat conditions
  4. Ear problems
  5. Swollen lymph nodes
  6. Inflamed salivary glands
  1. Nerve and artery disorders
  2. Bone disorders
  3. Reaction to alcohol
  4. Infections
  5. Referred pain from the chest and back
  6. Pregnancy

Jaw Pain By Symptoms:

Sudden, Severe, Shooting Jaw Pain

Throbbing Jaw Pain

Headache and Jaw Pain

Jaw Pain During or After Eating

1. Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) refers to pain and dysfunction of the chewing muscles and temporomandibular joints (TMJ), which connect the temporal bones of the skull with he jawbone (mandible). Causes include increased tension in the chewing muscles due to their overuse (gum chewing, eating hard-to-chew foods, nail biting, singing), poor posture, psychological stress (anxiety), sleep apnea or sleep deprivation, and disorders of the temporomandibular joints [57].

Symptoms include pain in front of the ear, jaw stiffness, decreased range of motion of the jaw (lockjaw or trismus) and clicking, popping or grating sounds during the jaw movements

Individuals with TMD also often suffer from insomnia, headache, migraine, chronic lower back pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, dizziness and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

2. Teeth Problems

Teeth grinding at night (bruxism) can result in a temporary jaw pain in the morning and excessive wearing of the teeth [59]. Causes include anxiety, sleep apnea, uneven bite and missed tooth.

Tooth decay with cavities (dental caries) can cause a toothache, sensitivity of the tooth to cold, heat, sweet foods or pressure and, occasionally, localized jaw pain [36].

Dental work that involves prolonged mouth opening or an injection can cause jaw pain, which should subside in a day or two. A tooth crown that sits too high can cause an uneven bite, which can result in the persistent jaw or ear pain [16].

A tooth abscess or granuloma can cause throbbing pain, tenderness and swelling in the gum and jaw [13].

An impacted wisdom tooth can cause pain, tenderness and swelling of the gum and jaw pain during mouth opening [12]. Jaw pain after wisdom tooth extraction can be due to inflammation called “dry socket” (throbbing pain, usually from the 3rd to 5th day) or a nerve injury (numbness in the gums, tongue or chin lasting up to several weeks) [37].

Jaw pain after root canal treatment usually subsides within a week [15]. If not, you should check with a dentist for eventual complications, such as infection. Failed root canal treatment can cause constant, throbbing pain in the jaw [14].

Periodontal disease (inflammation of the tissues around the teeth) includes gingivitis (red, swollen gums) and periodontitis (detached gums, loose teeth, jaw pain) [28].

Atypical odontalgia or phantom tooth pain is a throbbing pain in several teeth that can persist for months after tooth removal or root canal procedure without apparent reason [62].

3. Throat Conditions

Viral tonsillitis and strep throat (mostly in children) can cause sore throat, red and swollen tonsils, cough, hoarseness, pain in the ear or jaw on one or both sides and fever  [19,38].

4. Ear Problems

Swimmer’s ear (an inflammation or infection of the external ear in swimmers and others who frequently have water in their ear canals) can cause a mild earache, itch and redness in the ear canal and pain below the ear [42].

An injury of the inner ear can result in “vestibular dysfunction” with a headache, jaw pain, vertigo and dizziness [58].

5. Swollen Lymph Nodes

Swollen lymph nodes that appear as painful lumps below the jaw can be due to infections, such as a dental abscess, strep throat [20], infectious mononucleosis and cat-scratch disease (Bartonella henselae) [43].

Other painful lumps below the jaw include boils, cystic acne, infected epidermoid cysts and thyroid disorders, such as thyroid nodules [21] and thyroiditis [22].

Cancers of the neck and head can be associated with painless rather than painful lymph nodes.

6. Inflamed Salivary Glands (Sialadenitis)

Bacterial sialadenitis (mainly in elderly) can develop due to dehydration, stones in the salivary glands (sialolithiasis), autoimmune diseases (Sjögren’s syndrome), or impaired immunity (HIV/AIDS, radiation therapy, chemotherapy). Symptoms include dry mouth, pain, tenderness, redness and swelling in front of the ear, usually on one side, and fever [48].

Viral sialadenitis (mumps, epidemic parotitis; mainly in children) causes bilateral pain and swelling in front of the ears and fever [47].

7. Nerve and Artery Conditions

Shingles can cause a constant burning pain, extreme tenderness and itchy rash over the lower or upper jaw, usually on one side. It results from a reactivation of an old infection by the Herpes zoster virus. The rash usually disappears within a month. The pain that persists after the rash clears is called post-herpetic neuralgia [40].

Bell’s palsy appears as sudden weakness and pain in the facial muscles, ear and jaw, tinnitus, numbness, face drooping and mouth drooling, usually on one side. It is caused by inflammation or compression of the 7th cranial (facial) nerve [29].

Trigeminal neuralgia appears as sharp, electric-shock like pain on one side of the face, in the lower or upper jaw, teeth, gums, cheek and, less often, in the forehead or around the eye that lasts from few seconds to few minutes. It is caused by a compression of the 5th cranial (trigeminal) nerve, usually near the brainstem [9]. The pain can be triggered by a light touch, sleeping on the side, talking, chewing, hot or cold food, cold wind, teeth brushing, shaving or head movements [9].

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia refers to stabbing pain in the distribution of the 9th cranial (glossopharyngeal) nerve: in the base of the tongue, throat, ear and jaw [40]. The pain can be caused by a blood vessel or tumor pressing on the nerve or by multiple sclerosis.

Disorders of the spine in the neck, such as cervical spondylosis, arthritis or bulging or herniated disc that presses on the cervical spinal nerve root C2 can cause pain in the neck, back of the head and side of the lower jaw [26].

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) refers to poorly localized chronic pain and skin changes, usually on one side of the face, due to a nerve damage caused by an injury or surgery [58].

A facial migraine is a pulsating pain in the nostrils, cheeks, gums and teeth [40]. The pain can last from several hours to few days and is often associated with increased sensitivity to sound and light.

Atypical facial pain is poorly localized burning, gnawing or squeezing pain in the upper jaw on one side lasting for several hours. It was once thought to be a psychosomatic disorder but is now considered to have a neurological origin. Triggering factors may include facial trauma, dental work, sinus surgery, temporal tendonitis and a pinched nerve in the cervical spine [39,40,44].

First bite syndrome is an excruciating pain below the ear on one side lasting for few seconds after first few bites but not by subsequent bites. The pain can appear several days to months after a surgical procedure in the upper neck or parotid glands, probably due to a nerve damage [18]. The condition can heal on its own within several months [55].

Carotidynia, also called “lower-half headache” or Fay syndrome, is a migraine-like disorder with tenderness and throbbing pain over the carotid artery bifurcation below the jaw, usually on one side [52,53].

Temporal arteritis is a chronic inflammation of the temporal artery with throbbing pain, tortuous blood vessels and extreme tenderness in the temple area and occasional jaw pain, usually only on one side [40].

8. Bone Disorders

Inflammation of the sinuses in the upper jaw (maxillary sinusitis) can cause constant deep dull pain, usually in both cheeks and in the upper teeth, blocked nose and nasal discharge. Causes include viral and bacterial infections and allergies.

Jaw fracture can cause pain, tingling, numbness, bruise, swelling and jaw deformity, teeth misalignment and crackling sound during moving the jaw [7].

A bone infection (osteomyelitis) in the lower jaw can develop as a complication of severe dental caries, tooth extraction or jaw fracture. Symptoms can include jaw pain, tenderness and swelling, loose teeth, fever or draining of the pus onto a skin surface (fistula) [24].

Jaw osteonecrosis is partial destruction and death of the jaw bone. Symptoms include pain, swelling and exposed bone in the gums. Causes include treatment with bisphosphonates, steroids, chemotherapy or radiation, jaw infection, tooth extraction or other trauma to the jaw [30,33].

Tumors of the jaw bone are rare. Main symptoms are jaw pain, tenderness and swelling [51].

Eagle syndrome refers to pain in the side of the face, throat and in the shoulder due to a compression of the muscles by [27]:

  • A prolonged styloid process, which is part of the temporal bone below the ear
  • Calcified stylohyoid ligament, which runs between the styloid process and the hyoid bone in the upper front neck [27].

9. Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can cause severe burning pain below the ear lasting for several minutes. This can occur in individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome who have chronic inflammation of the salivary glands (sialadenitis) and in those with Hodgkin lymphoma [54].

According to anecdotal reports, certain beers and wines (mainly red), sometimes only in combination with fermented foods (yogurt, sauerkraut, sourdough, artisan rye bread) or spicy foods, can trigger shooting pain at the angle of the jaw on one or both sides [3,56]. The pain lasts for several minutes. The mechanisms can involve “histamine intolerance” (beer, wine and fermented foods are high in histamine) and an alcohol-induced increase of the secretion of saliva from the parotid glands and the constriction of the parotid duct [56]. Swishing water in the mouth may reduce the pain.

10. Infections

Infections in which jaw pain may be an important symptom:

  • Lyme disease
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Brain abscess
  • Tetanus
  • References: 50,61

11. Referred Pain From the Chest, Neck and Upper Back

Referred pain is the pain that originates in one site and is perceived at a distant site of the body.

Angina pectoris, which occurs in coronary heart disease refers to a sudden squeezing pain behind the breastbone that usually lasts less than 5 minutes and can radiate between the shoulder blades, into the neck, lower jaw and teeth, shoulder and arm, usually on the left side. Other symptoms can include shortness of breath, nausea, sweating and dizziness.

Heart attack feels similar to angina pectoris, but the pain is usually stronger and lasts for more than 15 minutes. Rarely, angina pectoris or heart attack may present without chest pain and only with pain in the jaw or arm [25].

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be associated with burning pain behind the breastbone and in the throat (heartburn), indigestion, metallic taste in mouth and jaw pain, especially when lying down after meals and at night.

In myofascial pain syndrome, pressure applying to the muscle knots in the upper back, neck, shoulders or chewing (masticatory) muscles can trigger pain in the jaw [35,87]. The syndrome is common in athletes and office workers.

12. Pregnancy

Jaw pain in women during pregnancy may be due to loosening of the ligaments around the temporomandibular joint. Associated problems include coccyx pain and pain in the pubic area due to symphysis pubis dysfunction.

Diagnosis of Jaw Pain

A doctor can often find a cause of jaw pain from your medical history and physical examination alone.

A dentist can spot a tooth problem.

An X-ray of the jaw can reveal tooth abscesses, cysts, maxillary sinusitis, tumors and fractures in the jaw bone and stones in the salivary glands (sialolithiasis).

A CT or MRI of the head or neck can detect abscesses and tumors in the soft tissues around the jaw and brainstem, abnormalities of the temporomandibular joint and herniated discs in the neck spine.

A Doppler ultrasound can detect abnormalities in the blood vessels in the neck [53].

Treatment and Prevention of Jaw Pain

To know how to treat jaw pain, you may first want to know the cause. Doctors who can give you a diagnosis include a general practitioner, dentist, neurologist, orthopedist, rheumatologist and maxillofacial surgeon.

If you think you may have the temporomandibular disorder or myofascial pain, try to learn how to cope with stress.

If you think you may have a problem with teeth, you can visit a dentist.

Infections can be treated with antibiotics and inflammatory diseases with steroids. Neurological disorders can be treated with anticonvulsants, strong analgesics or surgery.

A doctor can repair certain problems in the temporomandibular joint by an endoscopic procedure called arthroscopy [5].

172 Responses to Jaw Pain

  1. Kenneth Weed says:

    I have been suffering jaw pain while chewing & It suffers a lot. Sometimes it causes a headache. Then I checked with the specialist & he told me that I have TMJ. Even I don’t know why this happening to me. I want a medication that helps me to overcome my situation.

  2. Gregory Madjeski says:

    I have been experiencing a constant pain in the front of my upper jaw for a few years now. It is hard to pinpoint, but is generally above my front teeth, just below my nose. I had 2 nerve oblations performed, and have tried several medications for nerve pain, with no improvement. I currently take Xanax as needed, otherwise the pain begins to affect my nerves. The Xanax keeps my nerves under control and makes the pain easily manageable, but I don’t want to continue taking it if there is another method not requiring medication. I went to an ENT, but he could find no indication of anything that would cause this. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

  3. Andrea Orr says:

    I have had lockjaw for 9 weeks my throat is so sore had a few antibiotics and a few anti fungus drops had so many got thrush my whole mouth is sore especially the ring side seen 8 different doc and been at casualty once can only brush my teeth on the outside can’t open any further if anyone can help please do waiting to hear from the ent with no such luck as yet pain goes from especially from my right side as it had dislodge for about and dat and a half but locked again on the right side which seems to have to have opened for those few days but closed again

  4. Lucy says:

    Thanks Jan for the article!
    I have been having this pain around my right jaw joint, in front of the ear for a little longer than three weeks. Occasionally can feel pain deep inside the ear. A doctor had checked and eliminated ear problem, and said it’s the jaw joint. I have not been having tooth issue, injury on head, chewing on hard food etc. for a long time, so cannot thing out any potential cause.
    I also notice that my every inside teeth (up and bottom) seem unable to touch each other now. they were able to before.
    It bothers me when eating, yawning, and sneezing.
    It also occasionally wakes me up during night. But morning is usually the best time for me regarding this issue, so now I often delay my breakfast as much as possible to enjoy the comfort moment of each day. 🙂

    • Lucy says:

      I also found another of your articles, TMD, and am reading it now. Thank you so much Jan for these articles. BTW, I am 49, female.

      • Jan Modric says:

        Jaw pain that is apparently aggravated by talking and eating and goes away during the night may be due to something happening within the temporomandibular joint. If you think it’s not only stress and if pain does not resolve shortly, you may want to see an ENT doctor.

    • Riya says:

      Hey, I have this pain of opening my mouth wide from last 3 months!! And now I have pain in my right upper jaw near the ear, this pain is seen the moment I wake up in the morning. I could even move or open my mouth but also the pain vanishes like after sometime, but it again starts when I again wake up (at any part of day). And yes, I also suffer from sinus! It was diagnosed in December 2017. I am 18 years. What is the solution? Please help. Thank you!!

  5. Mandi Weaver says:

    Hi. Last night I was woken up with lots of pain in the left side upper jaw. It’s in a localized spot near my nose. I was recently at the dentist, I have not had sinus congestion. This came out of the blue. I have been more tired lately though. It hurts 2 upper teeth when I bite but it is more of a bruising type pain and does not get worse with chewing but actually better. Any ideas? I’m not sure what doctor to even go to.

  6. Danielle Guszak says:

    I had radiation to my neck and mouth for cancer that was in lymph nodes 7 yrs ago. I now have constant sharp stabbing pains on the side where the cancer was and it hurts to open my mouth to take a bite. Headaches non stop. Ear feels off. And I don’t grind my teeth at n ight as I am a mouth breather and struggle with this every night, radiation caused dry mouth so sleeping with mouth closed is important but almost too hard to do. Should I be worried my cancer is back, especially since this area was already radiated?

    • Jan Modric says:

      I suggest you get it checked by a doctor. If your problems have been fairly constant over the years, it may not be a cancer, but I can’t say it is or not. Radiation can trigger the development of adhesions (scars under the skin), which can press upon the nerves and cause pain, tingling or numbness. Adhesions could be treated surgically. Dry mouth may be due to damage of the salivary gland by radiation or damage of the nerves that supply the salivary gland.

  7. Allen Naccash says:

    Please need help, I have pain from first bite even before I start eating ( the minute I lay down any food inside my mouth, left side)and less on second and then no more pain, after finish the meal in 10 minuets severe pain like sharp pinch’s or niddels inside and around the ear and toward the lower jaw lasts for 3 to 5 minuets

  8. Will says:

    I’ve had pain in my lower right jaw, located right on the corner of the jaw leading up to the ear and radiating underneath and also into what feels like the base of my teeth on the lower right hand side. Nothing seems to trigger the pain, it just randomly comes and goes. I can go hours with no pain and then suddenly it returns. It’s not a constant pain, and I’ve found that if I dig my knuckle into the area around the pain pretty hard and hold it there, the pain stops. I’ve never had any real previous dental issues before, I this is very much a new experience to me. Pain killers don’t seem to help either.

  9. Lara says:

    I have a very milld pain in back side of right ear towards lower side. I only feel it when I touch it.

  10. AGNES DILLON says:

    Sorry to bother you but I’m having a lot of facel pain especially on both side of my face at the jaw area and teeth moving up behind my ears. And a constant heaviness at my forehead and below my eyes and more area all of this is constant and does not go away even with painkillers and anti inflammatorys. I do suffer with osteoarthritis of the cervical and lumbar spine this is getting me so down

    • Jan Modric says:

      You may want to visit a doctor who can check if there is any neurological or other cause of your pain.

      • AGNES DILLON says:

        I do get a lot of chest infections don’t know if that could cause it. Thankyou for your reply

        • Jan Modric says:

          If you currently have an infection, you could also have sinusitis, which can cause pain around the nose and in the front.

          If you previously had migraines, then this may be migraine pain again.

          Pinched nerves in the neck very rarely cause facial pain; they might cause jaw pain, though.

  11. KC says:

    Hi. Few days ago, i woke up with a pain in my right back molar and idk why. And the pain last til last Thursday. I also have cough and colds for the past week. I sometimes heard some ringing in my ears but my friends said that it could be because of a high dosage of a medicine that i was taking. So i stopped taking some of my meds and fortunately the ringing in my ears also stopped. But yesterday, as i was going home, i kept on coughing which made me breathe hardly and there’s like a pain in my left chest when coughing. On Thursday when i was working, i suddenly felt back pain. Up until now, my back still hurts. And then when i woke up this morning, i had this pain on the both sides of my jaw near my ears and every time i open my mouth, i can feel the pain. I don’t know if this is just because of my sleeping position last night or is this anything serious now? Can you help me with my problem? Thank you.

  12. Katherine M Derouen says:

    I was diagnosed with tmj.today I had to leave work because of the pain When I got home my husband noticed both sides of jaw appear bruised. They are both fading away.

  13. Nereida says:

    I just had today this sharp pain my lower jar to my lower ear lobes both sides and need to know what can i do?

  14. Nabz says:

    Hi, My husband has been complaining of a pain that I had recently – where one side (for him it’s his left side) there is extreme pain in the neck, ear and head – where we can’t move or it hurts to.
    This morning he woke up and it’s swollen on his left side of his face in front of his ear. He can’t eat because of the extreme pain and the neck and head and ear is also sore.

    We don’t have medical aid and/or any extra funds to go to the doctor – when I had mine, I just waited it out and rested – but I did not have any swelling, just extreme pain. He has swelling – is this an infection that we can treat at home and with rest or does it sound like something serious?

    • Jan Modric says:

      The fact that you both had it recently suggests that this may be an infection. Is the area tender to touch, is there any rash or other symptoms, such as fever?

      Such symptoms can occur in shingles, which can be sometimes without rash.

      The symptoms alone sound serious enough, so I strongly encourage you to find a contact with some doctor who can check this in person and tell more reliably than I can what it could be.

  15. James mccarthy says:

    So I have a very large mass on the upper left side of my mouth/jaw.. Sometimes causes the decayed tooth below it to hurt but most times its a stand alone pain around my left cheek… It hurts a lot to the touch and orajel and other numbing medications do not help with the pain. It was a smaller bulge a week ago but now it is much wider about the width of 3-4 teeth instead of 1-2.. It hurts constantly all day and especially so when I eat any food on that side

  16. V Tomalin says:

    I had a sore swollen lump on my right side bottom jaw for a week, then over the weekend I had a swollen and droopy bottom lip with lower gum pain. Now today the lump has gone on the right but appeared on the left, visibly swollen and painful to touch. I have no pain when eating and no restrictions when I open my mouth. Very confused. Bottom lip is back to normal and no gum pain

  17. Michelle says:

    I woke up out of my sleep this morning with sharp stabbing pain in my left jaw, teeth, gums…even on my check and feels like it starting to go down to my throat. It hurts so bad…i do have some dental work I’m getting but nothing bothered me in the last few weeks and it just came on so sudden…i feel like I got punched or stamped on my left side of face. What could it be? It’s been 45 mins now…no relief!

  18. Lisa Ang says:

    Hi,i have sudden intense jaw pain on my right side (even up till my right ear) that comes and goes suddenly. I can be just lying on my bed reading and suddenly the pain comes. I can be eating and chewing on my left side and suddenly my right jaw hurts really badly.

    The pain lasts for about 2-3 mins each time. I’ve never experienced this kind of pain before.
    I just had a full set of xrays taken of my teeth 2 weeks ago and the dentist said there are no problems with my teeth.

    Appreciate your advice please. Thank you!

    • Jan Modric says:

      You may want to visit an ENT or neurologist. One possible cause of such intense short pain is trigeminal neuralgia.

  19. Dhara says:

    Hi there,
    I have really bad pain in my left jaw leading to ear canal and moving up towards the skull. It seems to have started after a flight where my left ear started hurting a lot and now it’s been four days and the pain doesn’t go. It hurts the most if I move jaw side ways and also while eating. The pain feels intensified at night and my whole left side of the skull feels heavy. I took anti inflammatory several times to relieve pain and any sort of inflammation, but doesn’t really help.

  20. Hello.l experienced a long, and unknowing period of infection due to a Wisdom tooth. It finally began to hurt, but by then, the infection was all over my right side. After four rounds of antibiotics, the tooth was pulled. After a couple of days, my tongue began to burn, the underside of my jaw felt as though a blade was being stuck into it, my neck hurt so badly, I couldn’t think straight, and my ear felt like wind was blowing through it… A month later, it’s the same. I’ve been back to the dentist, but there is no resolution, and I’ve had neck xrays with nothing showing. The burning tongue, throbbing neck, and stabbing pain under the chin is constant. I’m on a regimen of medication for chronic pain-no connection to this-and it helps somewhat, but when it begins to wear off, it comes back with a VENGEANCE!… Oh-my right eye and right side of face with sjnus area are also affected… PLEASE help.. Thank you for your time…

    • Jan Modric says:

      If a dentist can’t help, you should ask some other doctor, an ENT, for example, or ask your primary doctor for advice ASAP. It could be possible that the infection has spread from the teeth to other areas.

  21. Shellie says:

    It started last night with just a soreness in my upper left jaw but by the time I woke up this morning, I can’t even open my mouth without pain. I have had no trama, no tooth problem and haven’t eaten anything to have caused it. I’m 40 yrs old. Any ideas why this has happened

  22. Kamal says:

    Since last two days, I am getting sharp pain in the left upper jaw to ear region after I eat anything hard or sweet. No pain if no chewing is involved. No pain on drinking any sort of thing. Pain subsides after 5 to 10 minutes after eating. I also notice red colored swollen skin behind my left ear (pains on pressing) and a lump like feeling on the intersection of left upper jaw and ear (painless on touching). Throat/nose is clear. Mild on/off fever upto 99.5 degree Celsius. Any suggestion will be helpful.

    • Jan Modric says:

      I suggest you to visit a doctor. A tooth abscess, inflamed parotid gland or an infection with swollen lymph nodes may be involved.

      • Rachel Offley says:

        A friend of mine is currently having similar issues – is your hearing any different, or have you had any ear infections at all? As well as the above, also look up Mastoiditis – I do suggest that you aslo see a doctor!

      • Jennifer says:

        Lower left jaw pain runs down side my throat..hurts when swallow but not bad ..just hurts and random came up last nite ..hurts to even press the side

  23. somnarayan says:

    before 20 days pain in upper jaw at sleeping time only. and after 1 week it will gone .and it will be start again i will take painkiller but it relax only for 6 hour in daytime it pain but in sleeping time day & night it will be a heavy pain

  24. Brittani says:

    I have had a pain which started in my back teeth on the left side now for the past week it is a shooting pain that comes and goes in the left lower side of my jaw it lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour it just recently progressed and is getting slit more painful a couple of months ago I was having the same issue although it was tolerable I mentioned it to my dentist at a routine cleaning and they said everything looked fine what could the problem be

    • Jan Modric says:

      There could be a problem with the teeth roots, jawbone or nerves. I encourage you to insist in further investigations. A dentist can order an X-ray of the mouth, for example.

  25. Manjeet says:

    Hi,I had discomfort leading to pain in my lower jaw,2 months back,it subsided on its own and forgotten, location is/was, last teeth,which are covered by a bridge since 4/5 years,after last tooth extraction back then. I usually have healthy oral hygiene with healthy eating habits. Ofcourse stress being my constant companion entire life,as I am a single parent with grown up kids,who refuse to help in the family business (service industry )which is extremely challenging. I am having excruciating pain since 3/4 days,which comes n goes periodically, mornings are common, but also anytime during the day. Full Mouth x-ray done,which is clear. Taking muscle relaxant prescribed by dentist. Not much help, but a little yes. What could be the reason and what line of treatment should I start. Please help.
    Thankyou so much

    • Jan Modric says:

      If a nerve is involved you would likely have pain during chewing. If the stress is the cause, taking a break may help.

  26. J. Johnson says:

    Okay, I’m a 33 year old woman with average weight and body health. Two days ago I began to have this intermittent, sharp pain in my lower left jaw. It extends from the eye tooth all the way up into my ear. Here’s the thing, I do have TMJ but this pain is random and vicious and is not related to chewing or drinking hot/ cold, it also does not respond to hot or cold compresses. It does not worsen and subside with jaw manipulation. It also does not respond to muscle relaxers. Oddly enough, I’ve noticed that the pain dulls when I AM Talking or eating or looking upwards. This isn’t a throbbing pain either, which I would typically associate with tooth pain. It is a distinct shooting pain that lasts anywhere from 3 minutes to 15 minutes, and will wake me up out of a sound sleep. Then it will just disappear for 30minutes to several hours and then without any outside stimuli it begins again.

    • Jan Modric says:

      The pain that changes with head movements can have a neurological origin. I suggest you to visit a neurologist.

  27. Sarah says:

    I had a filling done about a month ago and my teeth have been sensitive ever since. About a week ago my jaw started hurting like a throbbing pain and it sometimes radiates to the TMJ. I went to my dentist and he said that there was nothing wrong with the tooth or nerve. Any idea what this can be?

  28. Barb says:

    Since December, I periodically cannot close my mouth – like I get lockjaw. For a couple of weeks now, I’ve had sharp, intermittent pain on the bottom left side of my mouth/jaw. A week ago, I had a crown put on my upper right back tooth. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with stage 2b high grade epithelial ovarian cancer, and I’ve been in remission since. My family has a history of cancer. I’m a 40-year old female.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Jaw pain most commonly arise from the chewing muscles (due to teeth grinding at night) and then from the problems with the teeth, salivary glands and lymph nodes. Lymph nodes affected by cancer are usually painless. You may want to see a doctor.

  29. Pappy Stephenson says:

    I have recurring cramps in the muscle running from my left ear to my collar. By accident one day I found I could “cheat” the cramps by applying a bit of firm pressure with my fingertips just below the ear, right on that tendon. It pops noticeably and is instantly relieved. They come back frequently through the day, however. It gets annoying having to “pop” then everytime. But here’s the real cure, for me anyway. Eliminate caffeine from your diet. I did this for several months and the cramps gradually disappeared. Sadly, I couldn’t give up my coffee (I’m a patent and work a full-time job).

  30. Heather says:

    Okay, I’ve got a challenge for you with this one. It all started with a sharp pain under left jaw when turning head at random times. Had all four wisdom teeth removed, they had difficulty with left lower due to bone. Went back for removal of bone piece that was sticking out of left lower extraction site but it still feels like the bone is exposed and hurts when I eat or drink something hot and it touches that area. Since the extraction I keep getting new symptoms that once they appear, stay for good. Neck symptoms started almost two years ago on the left side but are much worse now. Masseter muscle is huge. Pain under angle of jaw that feels hard and runs vertical down neck Pain at lower occipital area that runs vertical down neck. Swollen and painful glands under tongue. Swollen on left side in thyroid area, sometimes hurts to swallow there. Pain in cheek with temple area headaches. Sometimes pain in eye area and nasal cavity. All of this on the left side. Well, then five months ago I developed new oral symptoms that have also remained. Swollen hamulus on left side. Right beside swollen and painful hamulus is a sore that feels like a popped blister with my tongue but you cannot see it and sometimes it burns like crazy. I feel like it may have gotten a little bigger with time but it is hard to tell. Around the same time I noticed a large white spot on my lower inner gums toward the front that has a red round border. It is large enough that it spans three teeth and it is very hard like bone and slightly swollen. There is about three of the exact same thing on my right side in the same area but they are much smaller and clustered together. Red lines come from the bottom of them into the floor of my mouth. I sometimes get a sharp pain in my upper left chest and below my left shoulder blade. I am always SOB. MRI and CT normal although the tech did say she saw fluid in my teeth. I feel like this is all due to some infection in my jaw due to the fact that when it first started I could take Clindamycin and it would almost go away but then come right back as soon as I’m finished with them, at this point I am on a long term dose of Doxy but it doesn’t seem to be helping much.I think that it is starting to affect the right side recently as well starting with the painful swelling under the tongue and angle of mandible. I will be seeing an OMS specialist at UT in Dallas at the end of February but just wanted to see if you had any ideas I could throw at them besides the ones I already have which are possible jaw cavitation, maybe trigeminal neuralgia or something like Sjorgens. Oh, one thing that I have found that does help when my neck hurts really bad is to completely relax it ; and nerve pain medication doesn’t touch it so although most Drs. tend to think nerve I tend to think more muscle or maybe my parotid. Any suggestions?

    • Jan Modric says:

      If they are muscles, there would be only muscles affected then. But you mentioned enlarged salivary (?) glands and rash in mouth, also that antibiotics were effective…which suggests some sort of infection, maybe Candida due to impaired immunity…Sjogren’s syndrome is worth to test.

  31. Tanveer says:

    Hey its Tanveer here I read all the comments to find out may be some had same pain like me I m from Canada I felt my pain last year I thot it’s my tooth pain I ignore becoz it’s very expensive to dentist over there few months I spend now then I went to different dentist they said I Dnt have any tooth problem they all are fine but I told them I feeling pain under my tooth at dental research center they said I have jaw problem becoz my from teeth are more front side upper jaw is not right position I took medicine for never also but nothing happened in India dentist said I have gum problem they did to sugary but i got more pain
    Then I told to my dentist I m grandding my teeth very badly at nite may be morning time my tooth getting tired and my jaw also he gave me nite gruad when I used first time I couldn’t sleep second day I was little ok but Third day there was more pain
    Today is my fourth day I cnt tell u abt my pain it’s in my ear under,my last to teeth,in my throat and my jaw I feel like burning pain and feel like some digging me inside it’s right side my face it’s continually pain every day only monrnjng time less but around afternoon out of control i went to everywhere ENT also.its killing me day by day I touch any where and feel the pain it’s some where inside please help me or let me know which doctor I shroud see please ??

  32. I get a terrible pain in my lower jaw between my the jaw and ear. I cannot put my finger where the pain comes from and it only comes while I’m chewing. I must stop chewing and wait a while until the pain subsides. I had implants recently and also have osteoarthritis in my hands and feet.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Janice, it is possible that after implants, something is pressing upon a nerve and triggers pain. I suggest you discuss this with a dentist.

  33. neela chipalkatty says:

    I have a throbbing pain underneath my wisdom tooth and lower part of the inside jaw below the tongue. I have pins and needles in my joints and extremities. Had a high reading of blood pressure in the doctors office. He increases my BP medicine Metoprolol. But I felt weak and shaking. So took Advil. Feel little better. What is this?

    • Jan Modric says:

      Neela, it might be few separate things connected or not. Pain under the tooth may be an abscess. A dentist can make an X-ray and tell. If you feel weak and shaking you may have an acute illness, maybe an infection. It is a doctor who can give you a diagnosis.

  34. Heather says:

    I have multiple autoimmune diseases. SLE lupus, Rhuematoid Arthritis,sjnogrens syndrome, fibromyalgia etc. I have had horrible xonstsnt pain in my right side of my face. Near the ear. There are whst ive been told are painful nodes in these areas. My perodid gland is so sore, muscle pain and swelling as well as my temple feels so bruised. I had a ct. It showed a littke sinus stuff in my left side but was told thst would be causing this. I see an oral surgeon today. But if this doesnt fix the problem what should be my next step. Because my pain management dr seemed to scoff anything but dental problems off. I have severe arthritis in my lower back and hips and other areas. Could i not have it in my jaw. Or am infection in the bone of my jaws. Im soooo misserable no relief except from going to er and recieving iv pain medication. Any advice would be appreciated

  35. Glenna says:

    My mom had this and now I believe I have it , I’ve been in pain a long time now , So uncomfortable , she had the surgery for this when I was young and was very scary.

  36. I got this sudden shooting pain in my left jaw, when I eat, my teeth are fine, so could it be neuralgia?

  37. Inda says:

    I have this pain come on in my throat and then it goes to my lower jaw and to my ear on right side.
    It’s really seaver if I drink something really cold and rub throat I have made the pain leave I have gone to the hospital before I did the cold drink it makes u feel like u are going to die throat feels like somebody joking u can’t breath lasts for more then 30 minutes and then it slowly stoPs the hospital never figured it out I know it’s not a heart attack. Please any help

  38. Samantha says:

    I have a really strong sharp pain below my ear just behind my jaw on the left side. I do sometimes get it mildly when drinking wine but this is constant now for a few hours and not showing signs feeling better. Please help

    • Jan Modric says:

      Samantha, I can’t help in acute health conditions. Such pain can arise from the parotid gland, for example, but it is a doctor who can make a diagnosis.

  39. jackie says:

    I have jaw and teeth pain, along with a dull ache in my right collar bone? Going to the dentist for exams. Why would my shoulder blade hurt too? I also have a hyatis (I think that’s how you spell it) hernia. If there is a disease in my mouth, will the dentist see it?

    • Jan Modric says:

      Jacki, if the original problem is in the mouth, a dentist should be able to notice it. If you have acid reflux, acid may contribute to pain.

  40. RAJBIR SINGH says:

    I am patient with jaw pain on left side of ear, neck , referred paid ear canal, tongue, neck, grinding of teeth since last 6 months . I have checked ENT and Dentist, but note find any result till nou

  41. Linda says:

    I have very sharp pain like a pin or needle is traveling from my ear through my lower, left, back teeth. It only lasts a few seconds or up to 20-30 seconds but is so painful I grab my left ear and sometimes yell.
    I have had this since 1997 and now it is 2016. In the 1990’s I went to dentist and physician and they could not find anything wrong. It doesn’t happen every day and sometimes not for weeks or months but once it starts again it can continue on and off for several weeks. This week it has been several seconds pain shooting, for few seconds ,nothing for a few seconds then more pain,nothing and then pain again and then nothing. Sometimes it wakes me up.
    Told my recent dentist and he doesn’t know why and either does the ENT I just went too.He asked how many times a day ,a week a month and I could not tell him as I never know when it is going to happen so he couldn’t do anything.
    I recently had a upper right molar crown #14 and it hurt like a regular tooth ache so he did a 3-D scan all around my head found a small infection up high above it so he did a root canal and put me on Penicillin and now I am at home for 5 days taking Penicillin ,Norco for Pain, Motrin for inflammation but
    the bottom crown molar still has this sharp pain from ear,Over the years I have not been able to determine why or how to stop it. What kind of a doctor should I go to? Should I go to the Mayo Clinic that figures difficult things out?I have a mouth piece from dentist as I grind and bite very hard but can’t wear it now as my mouth hurts. I have been grinding teeth since childhood. Last appointment dentist asked are you under a lot of stress and I said yes always am, I take 1mg of Ativan only once in awhile as I don’t want to become dependent on it. I worry about my adult daughter who lives with me and has mental and physical disabilities permanently disabled…So I take care of her when she needs me.Luckily she is very bright and gets “A”, as she is also a perfectionist and that adds to her anxiety which makes her impulsive.and makes me worry.We both go to psychiatrists.That anxiety will be with me.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Linda, it’s likely your pain is associated with grinding. Controlling that may help. The type of pain you’ve mentioned sounds like trigeminal neuralgia, possibly caused by something around your bottom teeth pressing upon the mandibular branch of the trigeminal nerve. It is not necessary any imaging will show anything…A neurologist or maxillofacial surgeon may know better.

  42. Joyce Ann Terrell says:

    I have throbbing pain in my lower teeth but it took all my courage to write to you about this. It has taken about a year for me to gather the information on this problem; Not only that, but I have pain in the glands in my neck. The back of my neck has been stiff since I returned from being a “Sjowbird” in Florida in the Spring. Sometimes my hands throb. I don’t know what if anything this means, but I have mentioned some of each of these problems to my doctors and they don’t understand or it doesn’t mean anything to them.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Joyce, it might be a chronic infection, for example. No idea, which exact infection, but a doctor can order few basic blood tests for the start (red and white blood cells, sedimentation rate, etc.) Or it may be a tooth abscess, which typically causes throbbing pain and can be associated with enlarged lymph nodes under the jaw and in the neck. A dentist can check this.

  43. Lekshmi says:

    I felt a severe pain in lower left jaw which extends to back of ear and then slightly to left side of the head.symptoms get better when i have cold water in my mouth.pain is so severe till then.its been a day and i had this attach thrice r four times

    • Jan Modric says:

      Lekshmi, it is possible that something is pressing upon the trigeminal nerve or more specifically, to its branch: the mandibular nerve. DEntists and ENT doctors deal with such pain.

  44. MAJOBE says:

    pls help I have a problem I have pain on the left eye, left cheek, left teeth. left neck and left arm

  45. Ann says:

    I had repetitive dental work – 4 upper crowns had to be redone 4x due to dentist using substandard lab. Implant restorative crown also redone & still not right. Healing screw in place. In dentist chair 3x/wk for almost 2 months. Developed tight chinstrap feeling about 6wks ago which has not subsided. Had had 2 single day episodes in April, resolved then. But due to the excessive dental treatment seem to have some sort of myofascial problem. pain runs along front of ears down entire jawline, bilateral. Worse on the side waiting for the implant crown. Been to chiropracter, and now getting dry needling from PT. New dental guard next week. The tight “band” feeling is so uncomfortable, can’t do normal activities. No pain felt when lying or reclining. Do you know anything that will help? What has happened? Take time for DN to work?

    • Jan Modric says:

      Ann, a chiropractor or dry needling may not help much. Yes, it may be myofascial pain, which should get better when all the work is done. I don’t know what else would help. You may want to avoid talking/singing and chewing hard food.

      • Ann says:

        Thank you for your prompt response, Jan. I realize I neglected to mention that I had a “miniface” lift 2 yrs. ago. Had no problem with healing; swelling and discomfort subsided i a timely fashion. Could the excessive dental work have bothered some muscle or tissue involved with the facelift, so that it structurally interferes with the movement – giving me the chinstrap tightness drawing up along jawline.
        At my wits end to know what to do. My plastic surgeon in retiring and unable to get appt to discuss just what to do. Would a head & neck plastic surgeon/ENT be a good choice to consult?

        Thank you

        • Jan Modric says:

          Ann, during all the dental work you probably had the mouth open a lot – this is the strain for muscles and the most likely cause of pain. Anxiousness due to pain may cause additional tension in the muscles and thus more pain…Neither your dental work nor mini lift involved any muscles, I guess, so I wouldn’t concentrate on that. I strongly suggest you to wait until the end of your dental work plus few weeks and give your jaw muscles some rest before you take any further actions. Apart from myofascial pain, the most probably cause of pain would be a pressure on some nerve within your mouth, so it is your dentist you can discuss about this, rather than a plastic surgeon. I’m pretty sure your dentist is familiar with such situations. What you can do is to describe the dentist exact pain location, spread, triggers and relievers in a time manner. This can help the dentist to make a diagnosis.

          • Ann says:

            Thank you again. Appreciate your input. Will let you know how it goes. Has been a rough road, but maybe everything takes time to get back to normal.

  46. jami says:

    i have been having shooting pains in my lower left jaw, along with body weakness and my vision is blurry some days. I am not sure what is going on, and I am one who doesnt like to go to the doctor. Any recommendations?

    • Jan Modric says:

      jami, this sound serious enough to me, so I do not want comment much. Go see a doctor, it can be a neurological issue.

  47. timothy spaccapelo says:

    I had a lower ack tooth extracted two months ago and have been experiencing tenderness and throbbing pain on the left side of my face, specifically from the left temple to the lower jaw. Xrays have proven negative. My ear Doctor said that there was nothing wrong with my ears and suggested a nerve issue surrounding theTMJ joint. He said it would soon go away, but it hasn’t. The pain is so severe that I cannot sleep and I am very concerned. Any thoughts and suggestions would be helpful.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Timothy, I am not a doctor, especially not an ENT, but the sensations from both the temple and teeth are enabled by the Trigeminal nerve, so it is possible that the irritation of this nerve causes your problems. This usually cannot be seen on X-ray or MRI. It seems that your doctor has guided you into the right direction – you may want to see an ENT or neurologist (ask your doctor which one).

  48. Alice says:

    I have pain sharp after eating and pain like a bruise at base of both ears in joint of jaw.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Alice, one possible cause is swelling of the parotid gland due to salivary stones. An ENT can tell more.

  49. Sandra says:

    Where my jaw meets on right side I have a horrible pain when I open mouth or move my jaw at all. I went to er and my gland is swolen but don’t know why. I got a antibotic calledceftriaxone. I’m on 2nd day. No improvement. I’m going to wait it out a little before returning to dr. But what can it be and why. ?

    • Jan Modric says:

      Sandra, if antibiotics do not help, and if it turns out it’s not an infection, they can be stones in the parotid gland, for example, but an ENT should know better.

  50. zuhair abbasi says:

    I had a 3rd molar extraction 2 days ago, i heard that there is some complication but that was controlled now i m feeling ear fullness, i can hear and i can feel the touch but i have earfulness like there is water in my ear, why is this so and would be the management.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Zuhair, I’m not sure if you can do something on your own. Ask the doctor and describe your symptoms in detail. If the doctor said it was a complication, it means he/she knows what it was.

  51. Nataraj says:

    I have intermittent shooting pain in the left lower jaw and this subsides when i inhale through the mouth pointing the cold air at the region where i suffer. Dentist who did an x ray said that there is a small tooth decay but not potent enough to cause pain and prescribed pain killer tablets. However the pain continued and i obtained a second opinion which suggested after an x ray that i have an impacted wisdom tooth. Please advise

    • Jan Modric says:

      Nataraj, you can ask a doctor who said you have an impacted tooth, if this could be the cause of shooting pain.

      To me, logically, pain from impacted tooth would not go away just from cold air. Also, such pain is usually more constant. I can’t exclude this as a cause, anyway.

      Shooting pain that is not directly triggered by opening the mouth or eating may be from a nerve damage resulting in “trigeminal neuralgia.”

  52. Laura says:

    I have not had the flu or flu symptoms, any dental problems, tonsillitis, or any symptoms that I have read online. I have had the dull pain in the jaw for a few months and wondering if there could be any other answers. Thank you for any suggestions

  53. NATALIE says:

    I was Diagnosed with Wegeners Vasculutis which effected the right side of my face the sinus cavity had nerve damage bones were gone etc. I was treated with Methotrexate and prednisone eventually I was release wand was in remission. That was approximately 10 years ago. Recently I’ve been under an extreme ammount of stress and noticed more congestion, hard to catch my breath and now out of the blue I have excruciating pain in my right jaw near my temple and right ear. It comes on quickly then gradually calms to an ache. My vision also is becoming blurred. Could this be a flare up of the Vasculutis? My aunt was diagnosed when she was in her 80 and eventually died when it went to her brain. I was,told that it’s a medical abnormally for two family members to have this disease back to back generation. Is this true? Could my new symptoms be a recurrence of the Vasculutis my insurance has changed in no longer can see my rumatolgist. Please advise thank.you Natalie

    • Jan Modric says:

      Natalie, I guess you have/had granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener’s granulomatosis), which can cause symptoms, you’ve described, including blurred vision and pain on the side of the head (which can be from temporal arteritis). Other conditions, such as migraine, could cause similar symptoms. You may want to ask your primary doctor is it worth to make a blood test, which could tell if there is any inflammation in your body, and you can think from there on.

      About genetic relations, it’s hard to say. This article:
      “In absolute terms, the occurrence of WG among close biologic and nonbiologic relatives of patients with WG is low.”

  54. Allison says:

    Is it common to have pain on the opposite side of your mouth that you got work done? I had two teeth and the remains of a third removed yesterday and I was expecting a bit of pain and swelling where they were removed. But im having pain on the other side instead,around other teeth that require work,too. Is that unusual?

    • Jan Modric says:

      Allison, I don’t think it’s unusual. Pain or work on one side can trigger or intensify pain on the other side. Your dentist may explain this better.

  55. Randy says:

    I’ve been dealing with chronic pain in my back and hips and neck area for many years now due to car accident and a rough life of playing football and martial arts. 40 years old now in the last year and a half I had bels palsy and recovered 99% from that. Only time I ever noticed any discomfort in my face that was whenever I rubbed it and try to do the facial exercises. Hasn’t today I woke up and my whole right sheets area is swollen and now my jaw and whole area is swollen it hurts so bad I feel like I’m gonna die. I did recently have dental work done about four months ago and I have some parcels and the bottom partials I couldn’t put in because they made me gag so I didn’t what Thursday was the first day that I put a man and was able to keep that meant for two days straight. But I noticed pain in my jaw and I thought maybe I had bruised the inside of my mouth?chewing with the parcels in my mouth cause discomfort I thought. But now the swelling is taking over the whole right side of my cheek area and it’s not in my ear and I can’t barely open my mouth and the pain is almost unbearable.

  56. Shannon B says:

    Hi there…
    I have been having left side face/jaw pain for 4 months. The pain is excruciating and intense. It lasts for days, its always there, but periodically hits the 10 mark. I have had 2 M.R.I’s, ct scan of sinus, panoramic and normal xray, ultrasound of neck, sae an ent, had the scope there as well. I have been to a neuraligist and was prescribed lyrica. It hasnt done anything for me. I might also add that i have been on antibiotics 4 times during this ordeal and its really the only thing that has given me relief, but only lasts for 4 weks. Last week my left bottom jaw swelled up, along with lymph nodes on same side. What could this possibly be?? Today i am going to see an oral surgeon who has a costly Cone Ct scan machine there. Hopefully i can get a diagnosis and some type of relief. Quality of life is so bad, and need to beat whatever this is.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Shannon, enlarged and painful lymph nodes are usually caused by an infection (viral or bacterial); enlarged and painless lymph nodes can be caused by various cancers. You may want to search for causes of enlarged lymph nodes in the neck “cervical lymphadenopathy.”

  57. Susan Ramos says:

    My son suffered pain in the upper and the lower jaw for almost a year.May I know what is the cause and the treatment of this?We’ve been through series of laboratories and already consulted him to the doctor,dentist and 2 times to the EENT and until now still this problem remains.Please help us.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Susan, I don’t know for which disorders he was tested and which of them were excluded. When no organic disorder can be found, you may consider temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD), which can be caused by psychological stress, for example.

  58. Amanda Drumheller says:

    Thank you for this very informative article! I have a pain in my lower right jaw that is only noticeable when i press on it. It feels like a nerve is exposed…difficult to explain. I hasn’t gotten better or worse for 3 months. My dentist did an x-ray and found nothing that alarmed him. Now another spot just like it is on the right edge of my lower jaw beliw my ear. What could these sensitive spots (only noticeable when pressed) be? Tganks for your input!

    • Jan Modric says:

      Amanda, I can’t confirm or exclude anything, but few thoughts:
      1. I imagine your dentist examined your teeth thoroughly, so you may want to concentrate on other possible causes.
      2. Nerve pain, for example, trigeminal neuralgia, would be more likely spontaneous, appearing by itself or triggered by opening the mouth. I’m not sure if pain triggered only by pressing on two different spots can be neurological. Neurological pain is either shooting or it causes muscle weakness or tingling or numbness…
      3. There are small lymph nodes *below* (under) the lower jaw and below the ear. When inflamed, they can be painful, but also enlarged, so appearing like small knots.
      4. An infection or a tumor in the jaw bone would be visible on an X-ray…
      5. Muscle knots (as part of myofascial pain syndrome or temporomandibular joint dysfunction) would be possible…
      6. Shingles may initially appear with only pain and later as rash, but what you described does not sound like shingles to me.

      I recommend you to visit your doctor (general doctor), who can inspect and palpate the area and check for eventual enlarged lymph nodes in your neck.

      • Amanda Drumheller says:

        Thank you so much for your detailed and excellent reply. I meet with a doctor this week. I so appreciate the information you have given me!

  59. Sylvia says:

    My right eye feels like its swollen and pains some times. Also my side of the face has some pain. My teeth seem to be aching but not too bad. I have been putting cold compresses around the eye and side of my right side head. What could this be

    • Jan Modric says:

      Sylvia, I’m not sure. Sinusitis can cause such pain, but you would likely have a clogged nose in this case. Eye and teeth and facial skin on one side are innervated by the trigeminal nerve. Disorders of this nerve could cause your pain, but it is a doctor who can find the exact cause. If your symptoms persist, I strongly suggest you to visit a doctor.

  60. Kimberly says:

    I have been having pain in my jaw off and on for a while. It started on the left side which at the time made sense because I think I had an outer ear infection and a wisdom tooth that is still coming in. My problem is it is on the right side where it makes no sense. I thought I was overcompansating for the wisdom tooth, but that isn’t it. Now I can open my mouth about 1/2″ which makes it difficult to eat, take my medication, talk, or even yawn. It only seems to hurt when I open it. I can put pressure on the joint and it doesn’t hurt, I checked my ear for infection, and that definitely isn’t it. I am not sure it is lock jaw, but I have never injured my jaw.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Kimberly, it seems that, technically speaking, you have locked jaw. There is a list of causes above in the article, which, among other includes wisdom tooth impaction (or just growing out), temporomandibular joint dysfunction as a reaction to stress, etc. It means, you do not need to have an actual organic disorder, it may be just the reaction to stress. I can’t rule anything out, though.

      • Kimberly says:

        It has been several days and the has crept upward and downward. Up into the extremities of my ear and down into my right mandibul itself. It seems to get better with cold, but otc pain killers do nothing for it. At least I found out that it isn’t lock jaw per say it just hurts a lot when I open my mouth. I still think it is strange that it is on the right and the only conceivable reason for this is on the opposite side.

        • Kimberly says:

          Looking more and more like it is either tmj/tmd or worse the big C, now it is swelling on the right side of my face and into my right ear. I still having an excruciating time trying to open my mouth. Pain is the worst right in front of my ear. Swelled up right there bad enough that I can see it. Like a moron I touched right in front of my ear and almost screamed. Never doing that again.

          • Jan Modric says:

            You may want to visit an ENT. A visible swelling may be from something more than just TMJD. You may have a visibly swollen parotid gland on one side and on the other it could be only painful but not swollen. Or an organic disorder on one side may cause TMJD-like pain on the other side.

  61. Jackie says:

    I have pain in two teeth that have root canal work upper right molars mild steady pain intercepted by shooting pain every couple of minutes hard to tell which one the pain is in – these teeth were checked three months ago and new fillings done. I also have neck/base of skull pain and tight headache on same side could this be something else and not the teeth? Thank you

    • Jan Modric says:

      Jackie, I don’t feel confident enough to answer this. I can’t quite imagine how root canal procedure would subsequently cause pain in the back of the head. I can imagine how a disorder of the upper cervical spinal cord or brainstem or spinal nerves arising from that area (for example, a benign nerve tumor called schwannoma) could cause pain in the back of the head and shooting pains in the teeth. Another term to look for is “neuralgia.” I would visit a doctor, either the dentist or a neurologist.

  62. Nazeerah says:

    Hi. I’m having this weird sensation in my mouth. Almost like my teeth are numb. My bite also seems to be a bit off. Having a bit of facial pain now. Any idea what this could be? I do suffer from sinusitis as well.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Nazzerah, if you have these symptoms only as long you have sinusitis, then the two conditions can be related. If you have any unusual symptoms, like inability to close an eye or drooling, then visit a doctor to check for eventual nerve damage.

  63. Tia says:

    This is ridiculous! Pain left side bottom jaw and ear, this all started a month ago. Extreme jaw pain felt like every tooth pulled with no mess and felt constant burning. Went to dentist everything fine no dental issues, then went to reg dr. Said sinus infection gave me antibiotics. They made it hurt worse. Went to another dr. Said probably sinus gave me dif antibiotics. It hurts can’t sleep or work. Feel like I’m going crazy. Help

    • Jan Modric says:

      Tia, a sinus infection usually causes pain in the *upper* jaw, around the nose and in the front of the head. An X-ray is needed to confirm diagnosis. If antibiotics do not start to help in few days, I encourage you to go back to the doctor, maybe to an ENT.

  64. Valerie says:

    I have extreme jaw pain that feels like a vise is clamping down on my jaw that radiates through the whole left side of my face which extends to my ear. Please, if anybody has had similar or has any ideas. The pain comes and goes and lasts between 15 minutes. I been taking Ibuprofen 800 mg which does nothing for my pain. I recently went to my dentist for a check up before all this started & everything was fine. So far I been dealing with this pain for two days now. It is making it hard for me to sleep at night.

  65. Deb Messur says:

    I started with horrible headaches, ear discomfort on left side 2 days ago. I now have throbbing jaw pain, ear pain, teeth very sensitive on bottom an top left side, especially bottom molar. History of tmj but have never felt this bad. Trying to determine if tmj symptoms or problem with tooth?

    • Jan Modric says:

      Deb, were your previous pain episodes also with *throbbing* pain? If not, then it may be something other than TMJD this time. Throbbing pain is more characteristic for infections, inflammation or migraine. In a single tooth abscess it is less likely that both your upper and bottom teeth would hurt. It might be an ear infection or something with your trigeminal nerve. I suggest you to visit an ENT.

  66. peter says:

    Hi right now I’m having upper left side jaw pain that have refused to go. The pain is dull but constant. My eyes are watery..what could it be. Peter

    • Jan Modric says:

      peter, an ENT can give you a diagnosis. It can be an inflammation of the parotid gland or an allergic reaction, for example.

  67. JJ says:

    Hi, I had a dull lower jaw pain that included swollen lymph nodes (all on right side only). The pain became worse in the middle of the night and then got progressively got worse during the day (pulsing pain). Went to the Dr and she said it was sinus issues and gave me a zpack. That night it then felt like it was tooth related so I went to the dentist who poked around, took x-rays and said it was not dental or an abcess. The zpack worked and the pain went away and lymph nodes went back to normal. A month later and it’s starting to come back again. Any ideas??

    • Jan Modric says:

      JJ, it may be the same infection again, and maybe antibiotics would help again, but I can’t say. I mean, sinusitis can recur, if not treated completely or long enough.

  68. CP says:

    I was going through tingling and jaw locking problem for last one and half years. It was happening very random. Sometimes once a week or twice a week, sometimes once a month. I went through every test, MRI, X-rays, neurologist, cardiologist. Two months ago, went to cardiologist and my BP came higher than usual. It was first time my BP came high. She asked me to take aspirin 81 mg every day. My tingling problem got cured with it. My BP comes normal.

  69. Rhonda says:

    I had some tenderness at left side where the jaw and ear meet. I noticed a couple of hours later when the pain was a little more consistent there is also swelling. The swelling is noticeable just looking at my face. The swelling and pain are more noticeable after eating. Eating sweet sour or tangy foods cause a very strong zing sensation

    • Jan Modric says:

      Rhonda, it sounds to me that your parotid gland may be swollen. Pain in the parotid gland after eating may be due to inflammation or stones in the gland. It is an ENT specialist who can give you a diagnosis.

  70. McAllister says:

    I had composite fillings 3 weeks ago, (no tooth pain) decay seen with xrays. They we’re in between 2,3&4. Since I have had severe jaw pain. Top and bottom and now I have shooting pain down my neck , my gland is swollen and stabbing pain in the side of my brain. It comes and goes, no triggers, and it is now severe, went to the er the put me back on antibiotics, no absess, but days later and no relief.

    • Jan Modric says:

      McAllister, the dentist will need to figure this out. It is either an infection or something other what irritates the nerves and cause the pain.

  71. Chrisy says:

    Hi there, I havent been sick at all and I believe I have a pretty healthy immune system. Lastnight I had three alcoholic drinks and my rightside of my neck was all of a sudden really tender and sore when pressed over my glands. I then noticed a crackling sort of sound when I press lightly over the sore area and my throat has swollen up, this was followed by a headache. The otherside is completely fine. I now have an ear ache also just slightly and was having chest pains when breathing. This has seemed to calm down a little now. I live in a very rural remote town so any advice is helpful please. I just became quite worried with the chest pains. Swollowing is not painful. But the crackling sound has not passed.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Chrisy, I don’t know if this is true in your case, but I’ll tell you straight: If the pain you have described arises from the lymph nodes, it can be due to a Hodgkin lymphoma. Alcohol rarely, but typically, triggers pain in Hodgkin lymphoma. Alcohol can also trigger pain in the parotid gland, but I’m not sure if that would spread over so broad area as you have described. If you are worried, I suggest you to visit a doctor: initial tests (some blood tests) should not be complicated or expensive.

    • Mysteryillnesswasdental says:

      For Crackling sound it is a medical emergency RUN TO THE EMERGENCY DEPT now! I assume you’ve already done that.

  72. Dot says:

    I have lower jaw pain on right side of face, not sever but annoying do have problem sinus at present with headache is jaw pain from sinus and can I get rid of sinus without antibiotics.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Dot, sinus infection should not directly cause pain in the lower jaw. It may be muscle tension due to stress that can cause jaw pain.

      A viral sinus infection can heal on its own, but bacterial sinusitis heals much faster with antibiotics. A doctor can say which type you have.

  73. Navneet Singh says:

    Hi Jan thanks for replying and your answer is highly appreciated. I am going to visit oral medicine doctor this weekend and hope he will find something. Thanks again for replying and I will keep you posted on my progress.

  74. Navneet Singh says:

    I am having left lower jaw pressure and fullness feeling along with very dull pain for last 30 days that comes after having food and goes after sometime but it is so disturbing that I cannot stop myself from thinking about it. I have consulted ENT and dental nothing found. Had full mouth X-ray (OPG) nothing abnormal in that. Also sometime left side below tongue becomes dry after having food. Had all blood test LFT, TSH, Lipids, KFT all normal. Just lipids little elevated. Please suggest what is this as it is bothering me a lot.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Navneet, you said the pain is triggered by meals and you can feel dryness under the left side of the tongue. It is possible that the ducts that come from the salivary glands (sublingual or submandibular gland) are blocked but I imagine the ENT and dentist would find this, so I don’t know. Another possibility is a damage of one of the nerves that supply the left jaw area. So, I think, either a good stomatologist or a neurologist can help.

  75. skye says:

    I have right upper jaw pain amd nothing here really explained my pain. I’m 16. Could it be my wisdom teeth coming in??

    • Jan Modric says:

      skye, this article is only about the lower jaw. Do you have pain in the upper jaw (maxilla)? Common causes of pain in the upper jaw are tooth abscess, wisdom tooth impaction and sinus infection.

  76. Grace says:

    One more thing, before the dental procedures, since I have tons of allergies I was put on mega doses of vitamin C and I had four days of vitamin C IV s before surgery and then afterwards and then my ND did ozone IVs for a couple more days, so the infection does not settle elsewhere in the body. For some reason this sort of infection may go for the heart so that is why most doctors will give you strong antibiotics, But many doctor are that I’ve been seeing seem to feel it is better to strengthen the body for strong defensive fight and with little no side effects which keeps the flora intact and you recover more easily.

    Also, many believe autoimmune it a umbrella term. Auto imimmue like CFS can be caused by wheat allergies, dairy allergies,L forms or it is now linked to retrovirus, or parasites, So do your homework and stay ahead of the curve!

  77. andrew says:

    I had extreme lower jaw/tooth pain recently. upon visiting the dentist he informed me that my last remaining bottom molar needs removal. there was an abcess below it which released an extrodinary amount of bacterial/infection fluid (pus). the pain I had is now gone, but in it’s place I have constant sharp/stabbing pains in the top right side of my head, my right ear and in my throat between my jaw and my ear. do you think this pain will subside (it’s been 4 days since tooth extraction) or if it may be not even related?

    • Jan Modric says:

      Andrew, if the pain is on the same side where the tooth was, it’s very likely related to either the abscess or tooth extraction. If the pain does not subside soon, I suggest you to contact your dentist. If the condition worsens, visit the dentist as soon as possible. Two causes I can think of are the nerve irritation or infection spread.

  78. Jimin says:

    Only a few days ago . I began to have terrible fatigue and a headache that comes and goes. And Still happening is a Excruciating pain around my left jaw area that doesn’t go away. It is extremely painful to swallow.
    And it has started to make me sound off while talking. would you know any reason for this?or what is wrong with me?

    • Jan Modric says:

      Jimin, fatigue speaks to me for some general problem, maybe an infection in the throat. It sounds serious enough to visit a doctor.

  79. Naveen kumar says:

    I am Naveen kumar.i am 29 years old.Last few years my lower elft jaw Painless Pressure down to ear and ear itching ringing,cracking Voice coming from jaw Ehen i Chose jaw.2013 i did Head MRI and every Thing normal.in 2015 i did NEck MRI every Thing normal. CRP,ESR blond Test is normal.my Symptoms is sleeping Problem,mind think too much,joint knuckel Voice ,Skin rash some time.please Tell me how i Diagnose thank you

    • Jan Modric says:

      Naveen, rash and problems with joints may speak for an autoimmune disease, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or rheumatoid arthritis, but you would need to have blood tests to confirm or exclude this.

      • Teresa says:

        I dont understand tho i got sle lupus so how does that have to do with jaw pain? Mine is on the right side I do have barrettes esophagus and just found nodulars on lungs i got copd my body seems to be falling apart since i was diagnosed with lupus almost 5 yrs ago and not one doctor has took out time to explain!

        • Jan Modric says:

          Teresa, if you have Barrett esophagus, you probably have acid reflux (GERD). Acid that comes up to your throat and mouth can irritate jaw muscles and cause jaw pain. So, you can ask your doctor what is the cause of acid reflux and what you can do about it. Avoiding certain foods can help (search online).

    • Grace says:

      i felt flu like wheezing, dizzy, blurred vision, jaw pain rash on right side of neck and stiff neck similar tissue saw 3 dentist, 4 oral surgeon had three ENT many top specialist Immunologist expert . I had parasite check 9 times nothing, I had five lyme test through IGENEX nothing I Had 3 MRI, panoramic x-ray micro magnification x-ray high resolution CAT scan , A friend gave us book, Root Canal Cover up and I hired the best biological dentist in Seattle for dental cavitation surgery, I had one root canal so I had it removed to see if there was hidden infection there was a small infection and then all the wisdom tooth sites were opened up every site they were cleaned and sterilized appropriately where I had my wisdom tooth removed and he found a punch of gauze in the site on the right side of my jaw that was left there years ago and the dentist told me who knows what they were using back then. That was making me sick I had jaw bone infection it is serious I was sick for three years! When I went to Chinese Medicine professor acupuncturist and told him that story he told me, “Do you have any idea how many times we’ve heard this story.?” So, I guess it goes to show you technology as amazing as it is may not locate the problem you might need some one to go it. I have read some positive things about Spiral MRI better ….or find someone that can see right through the body and see where the illness is located there are people out there especially in cool places like old Asia, India today. ..and that might be better off and save yourself a big bundle of money! Anyhow, I’m not saying that is your issue but it is worth a thought.Also a mouth guard helped a lot and I was clenching a lot more before because the dental infection was aggitating me but mouth guard help for teeth grinding

    • Mysteryillnesswasdental says:

      I had 2 MRI HEAD, Panoramic , 3D micromaginification of my mouth, , High resolution CAT SCAN of my head, and Xray, I had jaw pain that would come and go I had ear pain, brain fog, chills, dizziness rash flu like feeling I even had a lump on my jaw and was told it was just muscle like a charley horse, I was sick for two years, Saw three oral surgeon, four dentists over 30 doctors Finally we heard about Dental Cavitation expert and had the surgery twice and recovered, Apparently you can have a serious bone infection in you jaw and most of these tests will not find it and going to regular MD or regular dentist is like beating your head against a wall they can tell you something that they no nothing about. Look up Dental Cavitation experts they are not a regular dentist and if you can find a cavitron scanner or cavitat, There are many people that have had this and it may take one surgery or two or three to get all the jaw bone infection out

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