Why Does My Jaw Hurt on One Side?

There are several potential causes of jaw pain occurring on one side of the mouth. The pain may be due to nerve problems, an injury or blood vessel issues. Sometimes, it’s the result of a dental problem, such as an abscessed tooth or cavity.

Generally, one-sided jaw pain isn’t serious. But, especially if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Below, Dr. Ivan Stein of the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey discusses some of the potential causes of one-sided jaw pain and the additional symptoms to watch out for.

TMJ Disorder

TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder is a condition in which the disc that separates the bones in the joint connecting the skull to the jaw becomes damaged or misaligned. TMJ disorder is often linked to arthritis, teeth grinding, tooth damage, jaw injury or infection, and cartilage damage.

TMJ disorder usually includes the following symptoms:

• Jaw tenderness
• Ear pain
• Pain or clicking when the mouth opens
• Difficulty chewing
• Trouble moving the mouth if the joint locks


Sinusitis results from nasal cavity inflammation, and when the sinus cavities behind the cheeks become inflamed, jaw pain may result. Sinusitis tends to happen after having a cold or allergies and typically clears up on its own.

Additional symptoms of sinusitis include the following:

• Pain or pressure in the head and ears
• Trouble tasting or smelling
• Tiredness
• Nasal congestion
• Green or yellow mucus draining from the nose into the throat

Dental Issues

One-sided jaw pain can also result from oral health issues, such as the following:

• An abscessed tooth
• Cavities
• Tooth decay or gum disease
• Teeth grinding
• Misaligned or missing teeth
• Wisdom teeth growth

Jaw pain resulting from dental issues may include the following additional symptoms:

• Tooth pain
• Painful or bleeding gums
• Mouth sores
• Sensitive teeth
• Bad breath
• Dry mouth

In the event of an abscessed tooth, facial swelling and fever may also occur.

Heart Attack

In rare cases, one-sided jaw pain can be a sign of a heart attack. Heart attacks are typically accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain, tightness, or pressure in the chest and arms, heartburn or indigestion, nausea, fatigue and dizziness.

If you experience any of these symptoms in addition to pain in one side of your jaw, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Talk to an Expert

If you’re experiencing pain in one side of your jaw, you may need professional help. Call or email the office of Dr. Stein at the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey to schedule a personal consultation.