Dental Problems and Jaw Pain on One Side: What You Need to Know 

Tens of millions of people in the United States suffer from jaw pain on one side every day. When you have jaw pain on one side, it can be an excruciating and debilitating experience. Jaw pain is a pain where there are many different known causes. Some causes of jaw pain can be treated easily and quickly, while others may require surgery.

When the jaw hurts on one side, your body is trying to tell you something. It could be something serious. Dental problems are a common cause of jaw pain on one side. Other known causes include stress, neurological issues, and even heart problems. When you are wondering “why does my jaw hurt on one side” for a long time, talk to a doctor about it. Use this guide to learn more about pain under one side of jawlines, and what to do about it.

Causes of Jaw Pain on One Side

There are many causes of jaw pain on one side of the face. Among the most common causes of jaw pain are dental problems. This is an easy problem to address and fix. Other causes of jaw pain include neurological issues, heart problems, and stress, which can exacerbate heart problems.

The most common causes of jaw pain on one side of the face are:

  • TMJ Disorder
  • Dental problems
  • Stress

TMJ Disorder

The long name for TMJ disorder is temporomandibular joint disorder. It is called TMJ disorder because the jaw pain originates in the joint that connects your jaw with your skull. In this anatomical structure, there is a disc that allows your head and jaw to move as it does normally.

When this disc becomes damaged or has alignment issues, you may wind up with TMJ disorder. This is an extremely painful condition that includes tenderness in the jaw and an earache. This is also accompanied by a clicking and popping which is the sound of your joints moving when you talk or eat.

TMJ can be caused by infections, teeth grinding, cartilage damage, and even arthritis. If any of these symptoms or causes sound familiar to you, talk to a doctor about your pain.

Dental Problems

Dental problems are the most common source of jaw pain on one side. The most common dental issues that cause jaw pain on one side are:

  • Cavities
  • An infected or abscessed tooth
  • Wisdom teeth growing in
  • Gingivitis or gum disease
  • Tooth loss
  • Tooth grinding

In addition to tooth pain, you’ll have pain in the mouth that may be accompanied by sores or even some bleeding. Bad breath is another sign that dental problems are the source of your jaw pain. Your teeth may also feel sensitive. If you have chronic jaw pain, see a dentist to have this cause ruled out.


Stress is another common source of pain under one side of the jaw. Sometimes stress results in teeth grinding or teeth clenching. This is a condition known as bruxism that can make you feel even more stressed than you were when you started. In some cases, stress and dental issues will go hand in hand.

Symptoms of Jaw Pain on One Side

Jaw pain on one side of your face is a symptom of a problem all on its own, but it can come with a variety of other symptoms. These symptoms will help your doctor or dentist to find the root cause of why your jaw hurts on one side.

The most common symptoms associated with jaw pain are:

  • Pain and extreme discomfort along the jawline
  • Pain when you try to open or close your mouth
  • A clicking or popping noise when you open your mouth

Other symptoms include bad breath, difficulty sleeping due to pain, and numbness on one side of the face. The source of the pain will determine the symptoms. Numbness on one side of the face could be caused by a nerve problem as a result of TMD or trigeminal neuralgia, when nerves of the face are damaged or pinched.

Pain or Discomfort in the Jaw

Pain or discomfort in your jaw will present as a symptom in itself. You can have this pain and still have numbness on the side of your face. So your jaw may be sore and in pain, but the skin of your face is numb to the touch. This is a symptom of a nerve disorder.

If you have pain on one side of your face and your mouth is sore, you have bad breath, and your teeth may even bleed, these are all symptoms of a dental problem. Every kind of pain that is resulting in jaw pain is a symptom that can help you and your doctor to identify the cause and treat it appropriately.

Difficulty Opening or Closing the Mouth

If your jaw is very sore, you are going to have a difficult time opening and closing your mouth. The jaw could be tender or in excruciating pain, and make it hard to open or close your mouth. This will impact other things you do with your mouth such as eating, yawning, and even something simple such as kissing.

Clicking or Popping Sounds When Opening the Mouth

If you have issues with the joints or bones in your skull and face, you may hear a clicking and popping sound when your mouth opens. This can be alarming and even worry you about your teeth or jaw pain. The most common cause of this sound is TMD, and this can be treated. Talk to a doctor to learn about this noise. In most cases, just knowing what is causing that will help you to feel better about the situation.

Diagnosis of Jaw Pain on One Side

When you are experiencing pain under one side of the jaw, there will be a few steps to take to get to the underlying cause. Your doctor or dentist will look at your other symptoms before they come to a conclusion on diagnosis. The steps to a diagnosis for jaw pain include:

  • In-depth medical history
  • Physical exam
  • Diagnostic imaging X-Rays or CT scans

When your doctor has performed each of these steps, a diagnosis for your jaw pain can be reached. Treatment options will be the next step.

A doctor diagnoses jaw pain on one side of the patient’s face

Treatment Options for Jaw Pain on One Side

There are many different treatment options for jaw pain on one side. The treatment plan will depend entirely on what is causing the jaw pain to begin with. The most common treatments for jaw pain are:

  • Medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Dental treatments
  • Surgery

Over-the-counter medications can be very effective in treating jaw pain. Medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help. If the diagnosis for your jaw pain is more serious, you may be prescribed pain management medication specific to your pain. For example, there are specific medications used for nerve pain with trigeminal neuralgia, and TMD.

Physical therapy is another common treatment for jaw pain. This could include some relaxation therapy, or wearing a mouthguard or mouth protector. You may also be given some stretches to do that will improve the flexibility of your muscles around your jaw and along your neck.

Dental treatments for jaw pain will range according to the source of the pain. You may need a root canal, an extraction, or a filling for a cavity.

Surgery is an extreme and invasive treatment for jaw pain but can be very effective when a serious cause of jaw pain is indicated. You may need oral surgery with a specialized dentist. Your jaw pain could also be caused by a neurological condition that requires brain surgery to repair and improve pinched or damaged nerves.

Home Remedies for Jaw Pain Relief

When you are wondering “why does my jaw hurt on one side,” it is natural to look for a home remedy first. There are many different things you can do to bring relief to jaw pain.

  • Hot or cold compresses, whichever works best for you
  • Neck or back massage
  • Relaxation treatments or therapies such as meditation
  • Natural pain relievers

An example of a natural pain reliever includes at-home treatments like baking soda and water to clean abscesses in the teeth and ginger for nausea associated with this pain. Changing some lifestyle habits will help as well. You may also want to try non-prescription pain relief if you have some available at home.

Prevention Tips for Jaw Pain on One Side

When your jaw hurts, there are some methods of prevention that you can use to relieve the pain. Some methods you may adopt as a simple matter of attempting to find natural pain relief.

  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Maintain good posture
  • Manage stress
  • Take care of your teeth and adopt good habits of dental hygiene
  • Wear headgear during sports

Jaw pain could become a condition that lasts for a long time, and in the case of neuralgia, it is a condition for life. An ounce of prevention goes a long way toward treating or managing much of the pain associated with jaw pain.

When to See a Doctor

The two most common indicators that should send you to a doctor with jaw pain are severe pain, or pain that persists or does not go away. Severe pain is an indicator of a severe or serious problem, and so is pain that will not go away. When you have tried every kind of at-home relief that you can to treat your jaw pain, it is time to see a doctor.

If you have difficulty opening or closing your mouth, this is another serious problem that may require medical attention. This problem can result in other problems, such as avoiding eating or even avoiding things that you enjoy doing like singing or talking on the phone. If you experience some lifestyle intrusions as a result of this jaw pain, talk to your doctor about it to get relief soon.

A serious indicator that it is time to see a doctor is a change in your bite or alignment. This could be a dislocated jaw or other serious medical condition. Any signs of stress that are resulting in symptoms of heart attack, panic attacks, or heart issues, are also signs that you should seek immediate medical attention.

Find Relief for Jaw Pain on One Side

If you are suffering from jaw pain, it is time to stop asking why does my jaw hurt on one side. Get it checked out by a doctor. Your symptoms may be relieved with some at-home remedies and over-the-counter medication. Dental treatments may also bring relief for jaw pain. Talk to a doctor or dentist today to find relief from jaw pain. You don’t need to live with it.

Photo of author

Stevie Compango, CNSC, CPT

Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.

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