Sudden pain on one side of your jaw can be alarming, but it’s usually not serious. You might worry about dental issues such as a cavity or abscessed tooth or wonder if you’ve been grinding your teeth at night.
There are several possible causes of one-sided jaw pain. Here, we’ll go over some of the main causes, note other symptoms to look for, and let you know when it might be time to see your doctor or dentist.
Generally, jaw pain on one side isn’t cause for immediate concern. But in rare cases, it can be an early sign of a heart attack. Anyone can experience this symptom, but it does occur more commonly in women.
If you’re having a heart attack, you’ll likely have some other signs along with jaw pain, including:
These symptoms can develop suddenly or come on slowly, over several hours or days. If your jaw pain is accompanied by some of these symptoms, seek emergency treatment or have someone drive you to the hospital.
Here’s a look at the most likely causes of jaw pain.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders affect the joint that connects your skull and jaw. A disc separates the bones in this joint and helps it move properly. If the disc becomes misaligned or the joint is damaged, you could experience pain and other symptoms on one or both sides of your jaw.
Other symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
Multiple factors can contribute to TMJ disorders, so it’s not always easy to find a specific cause.
Issues known to play a part in TMJ disorders include:
If you have symptoms of a TMJ disorder, talk to your healthcare provider or dentist to figure out the underlying cause.
Inflammation in your nasal cavities can cause sinusitis. This tends to happen if you’ve had a cold, but allergies and other medical conditions can also contribute to sinusitis.
If the sinus cavities behind your cheeks, known as the maxillary sinuses, are inflamed, you might feel pain in one or both sides of your jaw.
Other symptoms of sinusitis include:
Sinusitis often clears up on its own, but it may be worth checking in with your healthcare provider if lasts more than a week.
Pain on one side of your jaw can often be traced to dental or oral health concerns.
Common dental problems that cause jaw pain include:
If dental issues are to blame, you’ll likely have additional symptoms, such as:
Facial swelling and fever along with severe tooth pain may indicate an abscess. Call your dentist or healthcare provider right away for these symptoms, especially if breathing and swallowing become difficult.
If you have mild or temporary pain in your jaw, you may not need medical treatment. If the cause isn’t serious, pain usually improves once the issue clears up.
In the meantime, these approaches can help you manage it: