Here's What Is Causing Jaw Pain On One Side Of Your Mouth

Pain or discomfort that hits one side of the body isn't necessarily experienced on the other. This applies to jaw pain too. While an injury, teeth grinding, or a surgical procedure may cause your jaw to hurt all over, there are certain instances in which the pain may be isolated to just one side. The cause of one-sided jaw pain may be minor and temporary or, in some cases, can be cause for concern.

Among the more common causes of jaw pain is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), according to REstore TMJ & Sleep Therapy. This occurs when the joint holding the skull and jaw together is not functioning as it should be. Those with TMD may experience earaches, toothaches, swelling, headaches, and jaw popping, amongst other symptoms. TMD symptoms may be particularly aggravated on one side of the jaw for those who sleep on their side.

Alternatively, one-sided jaw pain may accompany a sinus infection. Otherwise known as sinusitis, the buildup of pressure and inflammation within the sinuses can prompt pain in one side of the jaw if more swelling occurs on one side of the face than the other.

Serious causes of one-sided jaw pain

Another cause of jaw pain localized to one side of the face may be cluster headaches (via REstore TMJ & Sleep Therapy). While cluster headaches only occur in approximately 1 in every 1,000 individuals (per Cleveland Clinic), they often start behind one eye, which may subsequently affect the jaw on the same side of the face.

While these are only a few of the various causes of one-sided jaw pain, there are also more serious conditions that warrant addressing too. Although rare, pain that starts in the chest and makes its way to one side of the jaw may indicate a heart attack (via Healthline). This may also be accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, cold sweats, or tightness in other areas of the body, such as the arms, neck, or back, amongst other symptoms. While also rare, one-sided jaw pain could also be the product of a bacterial bone infection known as osteomyelitis.

Alternatively, those diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia may also experience pain on one side of their jaw. The condition is characterized by compression on the trigeminal nerve, which can cause sharp, one-sided pain in the face.

Seeking relief for jaw pain

It's important to remember that not all jaw pain is indicative of a serious health condition. Rather, excessive gum chewing, clenching your teeth, or even wearing braces can contribute to the discomfort. For others, dental problems may be the root of the issue, in which it's advised to see a dentist for formal diagnosis and treatment.

Be sure to see a healthcare practitioner if you experience difficulty moving your mouth, eating, swallowing, or breathing. The same is true if your jaw pain is accompanied by a fever or you suspect an issue with your oral health. In addition to seeking medical care, try easing the discomfort at home with the use of a hot or cold compress, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medications, and by getting plenty of rest and relaxation. For side-sleepers, try altering your positioning at night and see if you experience improvement in your symptoms. Even if you don't believe your jaw pain is cause for concern, in the event that the pain is recurrent or lingers beyond a few days after attempting to treat it at home, reach out to your doctor.