Jaw pain and headache is commonly experienced by most of us. The jaw is located in such a manner that various conditions can lead to jaw pain and discomfort in structures around the jaw. It is very common for headache to be associated with jaw pain, especially on the affected side.


What Can Cause Jaw Pain


Causes Of Jaw Pain And Headache On One Side

Jaw pain and headache on one side can be observed in several conditions ranging from joint problems or arthritis, dental issues, infection or injuries, TMD.

Jaw Pain And Headache On One Side Caused Due To Injury

Trauma to the jaw can result in jaw pain on the injured side. Trauma can be a result of fall, direct blow to the jaw, sports injury, automobile accident, whiplash injury or other activities causing damage to the jaw. The injury can affect the jaw joint and the surrounding soft tissues causing fracture, dislocation, bruising or ligaments injuries. Internal injuries to the jaw may also result from misaligned teeth or ill-fitting dentures.


Symptoms of jaw pain due to injury include pain around the injured area; swelling, bleeding or bruising may also be present. Nerve damage due to injury can result in numbness, tingling, changes in sensation or other neurological symptoms as well.

Jaw Pain And Headache On One Side Caused Due To Dental Issues

Dental issues are the commonest cause of jaw pain and headache on one side. It is commonly experienced due to an infected tooth, abscess, wisdom tooth and after a tooth extraction. Dental infection and tooth extraction can result in jaw pain and swelling around the jaw, which may extend up to the ears. Injuries to the dental structures, tooth fracture or gum disease can also contribute to jaw pain and headache on the affected side. Dental causes may be accompanied with pain in teeth, inability to chew properly and other oral symptoms.

Causes Of Jaw Pain And Headache On One Side

  • Wisdom Tooth Causing Jaw Pain And Headache On One Side- Jaw pain and headache on one side due to wisdom teeth are fairly common. Some cases may need wisdom tooth extraction and specialized endodontic treatment.
  • Tooth Abscess – Infection of the interior of the tooth result in severe pain, which extends to nearby areas depending on the location of the tooth. This needs to be treated at the earliest to avoid spread of infection, further pain and damage.
  • Tooth Extraction – After a tooth is extracted, there is pain in the area along with jaw pain and headache. Also, the exposed area is at risk of infection and appropriate preventive treatment should be given.
  • Post Wisdom Tooth Extraction Infection – The location of wisdom tooth is tricky and often the procedure for wisdom tooth extraction has to be dealt with delicately. It is usually a specialty procedure and can also involve the jaw bone, which can cause severe pain. It may take longer time to heal, during which if the exposed area gets infected, it can cause more complications with jaw pain and headache.
  • Other Causes Of Jaw Pain And Headache On One Side – Other causes may include oral and dental issues like problems of oral cavity near the jaw, gum problems or infections and sometimes dentition.

Jaw Pain And Headache On One Side Caused Due To Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)

Problems of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or jaw joint can cause pain in jaw and headache on the affected side. Various conditions can affect the TMJ and include arthritis of the joint, injuries to the joint or ligaments from sports, fall or accidents, tensed muscles or damaged soft tissues, and misalignment of teeth. Unusual movements of the jaw, bruxism or teeth grinding, clenching of jaw can also result in TMJ problems and jaw pain.

Symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) include jaw pain, headache and pain extending to the ears and neck; sometimes headache above and behind the ears. Jaw joint pain may cause difficulty in opening the mouth wide, chewing, yawning and activities like yelling or singing may make the jaw pain worse. Sometimes clicking or grating sounds may be heard with jaw movements. In some cases, the jaw may get locked in a position, making the jaw unable to move. If such cases do not resolve, an expert medical help may be required for manual release of the jaw.

Jaw Pain And Headache On One Side Caused Due To Nerve Involvement

Jaw pain and headache can also be caused due to involvement of the nerves in the region of head, neck and face. Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), also called Tic Douloureux is a condition in which the facial nerve gets irritated causing sharp pain in the face, jaw pain and headache on one side, which is affected. A specialist opinion and treatment is required in such cases.

Other Causes For Jaw Pain And Headache On One Side

  • Nasal problems and sinusitis causing inflammation of sinuses and pain in cheekbone and jaw. Blocked nasal passages, foreign body impaction, infection or injuries can also cause jaw pain and headache on the affected side.
  • Unusual or repetitive movements of the jaw or oral structures like object sucking, nail biting, teeth grinding, clenching jaws under stress or such other behaviors can affect the jaw and cause jaw pain. Sometimes, overuse of one side of the mouth while chewing or eating hard food can cause jaw pain and headache on one side.
  • On some occasions, jaw pain on one side can arise out of muscle stretch in the upper body or can be result of more serious conditions of the heart, especially when associated with sweating, upper arm pain, choking feeling and breathing difficulty. Immediate medical attention is required in such cases.

Jaw pain and headache on one side has varying causes and their complaints and treatment options vary according to the underlying cause.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 25, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer


Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest