TMJTooth Pain

Can TMJ Cause Tooth Pain?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint between your jawbone and your skull that helps you do things like talk, chew, and yawn.

A lot of people know that it can cause jaw pain and clicking sounds, but did you know that it can also cause tooth pain?

In this article, I’m diving into the link between TMJ and tooth pain, and exploring the possible causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

What is TMJ, and How Does It Cause Tooth Pain?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a crucial hinge joint that connects your jaw to your skull. It plays a pivotal role in essential activities such as chewing, talking, and yawning.

When this joint experiences dysfunction, it can lead to TMJ disorder, commonly known as TMJ.

One of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder is tooth pain. This occurs due to the proximity of the TMJ to the surrounding oral structures, including teeth, muscles, and nerves.

When the TMJ is misaligned or experiences excessive pressure, it can transmit pain signals to the teeth, leading to discomfort and sensitivity.

Source: Youtube ( Teeth Talk Girl )

Identifying the Symptoms of TMJ-Related Tooth Pain

Jaw Pain and Clicking Sounds:

Individuals with TMJ disorder often experience pain in and around the jaw area.

Additionally, you might notice clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing your mouth, indicating a potential issue with the TMJ.

Tooth Sensitivity:

TMJ-related tooth pain can manifest as tooth sensitivity, making it uncomfortable to eat hot or cold foods. This sensitivity is often localized to specific teeth and can be recurrent.

Headaches and Earaches:

TMJ disorder can cause referred pain, leading to headaches and earaches. The pain might radiate from the jaw to the temples and ears, further complicating the diagnosis.

Difficulty Chewing:

If you find it challenging to chew or experience discomfort while doing so, it could be a sign of TMJ-related tooth pain.

Locking of the Jaw:

In severe cases of TMJ disorder, the jaw may temporarily lock, making it challenging to open or close the mouth fully.

Understanding the Causes of TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder can have various underlying causes, and identifying them is crucial for effective treatment. Some common factors contributing to TMJ disorder include:

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism):

Grinding or clenching your teeth, especially during sleep, can exert excessive pressure on the TMJ, leading to dysfunction and tooth pain.

Jaw Misalignment:

Misalignment of the jaw can put undue stress on the TMJ, causing pain and discomfort.


Inflammatory conditions like arthritis can affect the TMJ, resulting in pain and limited jaw movement.

Trauma or Injury:

A direct blow to the jaw or face can cause damage to the TMJ, leading to TMJ disorder.

Stress and Anxiety:

Chronic stress and anxiety can contribute to teeth grinding and jaw clenching, exacerbating TMJ-related tooth pain.

Diagnosing TMJ Disorder and Tooth Pain

If you suspect you have TMJ disorder and are experiencing tooth pain, it is essential to consult a qualified dentist or oral health specialist. The diagnosis will typically involve:

Thorough Medical History:

Your dentist will inquire about your medical history, including any past injuries or dental treatments that might have contributed to the condition.

Physical Examination:

A comprehensive examination of your jaw, teeth, and oral structures will be conducted to identify any signs of TMJ disorder.

Imaging Studies:

X-rays or other imaging techniques might be employed to get a clear picture of the TMJ and its alignment.

Bite Analysis:

An analysis of your bite might be performed to check for any misalignments or discrepancies.

Treatment Options for TMJ-Related Tooth Pain

Lifestyle Modifications:

Simple lifestyle changes can significantly alleviate TMJ-related tooth pain. These may include stress-reduction techniques, avoiding hard and chewy foods, and refraining from teeth-grinding or jaw-clenching habits.


Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage mild TMJ-related tooth pain. In more severe cases, muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory drugs might be prescribed.

Dental Treatments:

Dental procedures like orthodontic adjustments or the use of dental splints can help correct jaw misalignment and reduce tooth pain.

Physical Therapy:

Physical therapy exercises aimed at strengthening the jaw muscles can improve TMJ function and alleviate pain.

Surgery (In Extreme Cases):

In rare instances where conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgery might be considered to address structural issues in the TMJ.

How Can You Differentiate TMJ Pain from a Toothache?

As a dentist, I can help you differentiate between TMJ pain and toothache. Toothache pain is sharp, throbbing, and localized to a specific tooth. It worsens with pressure, chewing, and temperature changes.

TMJ pain, on the other hand, is dull and felt around the jaw joint, just in front of the ear, and may extend to the face and temples.

TMJ pain can be triggered by teeth clenching, grinding, stress, or jaw injuries, while toothaches are often caused by dental issues like decay or gum disease.

Additional symptoms for toothaches include sensitivity, swelling, and visible damage, while TMJ pain may be accompanied by clicking sounds, limited jaw movement, and locking sensations.

Dental treatments like fillings or extractions address toothaches, while TMJ issues may require mouth guards, physical therapy, or other specific treatments.

If you experience persistent or severe pain, visit a dentist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.


In conclusion, differentiating TMJ pain from a toothache can be challenging due to their overlapping symptoms.

TMJ-related tooth pain is a complex condition that requires attention and proper management.

Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for TMJ disorder is crucial for improving your oral health and quality of life.

Remember, if you suspect you have TMJ disorder, consult a qualified dentist or oral health specialist for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan.

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Dr. Ahtsham

I am a dentist. I am working hard to keep this blog updated for those suffering from tooth pain. It is my goal to make this blog the source for all information regarding tooth pain. Feel free to contact me if you are suffering from toothache.

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