What Could Be Going On if Your Jaw Only Hurts on One Side?

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Jaw pain that manifests on only one side of the face can indicate several dental issues. Of course, there are also some dental issues that can also lead to jaw pain on both sides of the faces. If you are experiencing jaw pain on only one side, the best way to determine the cause (and get relief) is by scheduling a consultation with your dentist.

If your jaw only hurts on one side, let’s take a few moments to cover some of the main culprits. Read on to learn more.



Does your sleeping partner complain that you grind your teeth at night? The medical term for this is known as bruxism. The main issue with bruxism is that most people who grind their teeth at night are completely unaware they have this condition. They may occasionally wake up with soreness on one or both sides of the face and not quite understand the cause.

Beyond seriously affecting your quality of sleep, bruxism can lead to several problematic dental issues, namely wearing away dental enamel and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).


Understanding TMJ Disorders

Most TMJ disorders are caused by grinding teeth at night, which not only leaves the teeth open to infection, but can actually cause teeth to become cracked and brittle.

With prolonged bruxism, your teeth will become ground down to the point that they will no longer be even from one side of the jaw to the other. This is ultimately what leads to temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ occurs when the joints of your jaw become imbalanced. When this occurs, more pressure is exerted on one joint of the jaw compared to the other, resulting in pain and inflammation. Although, it is important to note that TMJ can also result in jaw pain on both sides of the face. To make matters worse, the pain of TMJ can actually cause you to grind your teeth more during your sleep, further exacerbating the issue.


Abscessed Tooth

It’s sometimes easy to forget that inside every tooth is a network of living tissue and nerves that help the tooth remain healthy. When the pulp inside of the tooth becomes infected, the resulting inflammation can push on the nerves and lead to painful sensations. Nearly 40% of all the nerves in your body can be found in your facial region. With this complex network of nerve endings, you may have an abscessed tooth that appears to be jaw-related since that is where the pain appears to originate, but it may indeed originate at the tooth-level.

An abscessed tooth can be caused by a fractured tooth, untreated cavity, or complications resulting from a previous dental restoration. The most common treatment for an abscessed tooth is root canal therapy. With this type of treatment, the dentist will go in and remove the infected pulp and tissue, fill the tooth, and seal it against future bacterial intrusion.

If you suspect you have an abscessed tooth, do not delay in seeking treatment. Left untreated, an abscessed tooth can lead to life-threatening complications.


Bone Infection

Certain dental conditions such gingivitis and untreated tooth decay can spread to the jawbone tissue and result in an infection around the teeth known as periodontitis. The issue with periodontitis and periodontal disease is that some patients may have a severe infection yet experience little discomfort. Meanwhile, another patient may have a similar infection yet experience excruciating pain. Therefore, even if you experience mild jaw pain lasting more than 48 hours, you should consult with a dentist.

Bone infections from staphylococcus bacteria can also lead to painful sensations on one side of the jaw. This is known as osteomyelitis. With this type of infection, you may experience extreme pain, swelling around the jaw, as well as fever. In addition to blood-borne bacteria, osteomyelitiscan also be caused by an infection after surgery, injury, or poor oral hygiene.


Experiencing Jaw Pain?

Chronic jaw pain usually does not resolve itself. If you are experiencing jaw pain, schedule an appointment with Susquehanna Oral & Facial Surgery & Dental Implant Center. Don’t wait for the condition to worsen. Get help today – call us to schedule an appointment.

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