Unhappy Woman Suffering from Jaw Pain

Chronic Jaw Pain: Exploring Treatment Options And Solutions

If you’ve ever experienced consistent pain in your jaw area that just won’t go away, you’re not alone.

Chronic jaw pain is a common problem affecting millions of people in the U.S. From trouble chewing and swallowing to problems speaking clearly, ongoing jaw pain can make simple daily tasks a struggle.

And in some cases, the discomfort and limitations it causes can impact your quality of life. 

The good news is that while living with chronic jaw discomfort can feel disheartening, there are many treatment options available that may provide relief.

Unhappy Woman Suffering from Jaw Pain

In this article, you can explore some of the most common causes behind persistent jaw pain, as well as both conservative at-home remedies and professional medical treatments that could help manage your symptoms. Let’s begin.

  1. What causes chronic jaw pain?

There are a few key culprits that tend to be behind nagging jaw pain:  

  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD/TMJ) 

According to research, an estimated 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorders.

Symptoms may range from tenderness in the jaw muscles to sudden locking of the jaw when eating or speaking.

If you’re suffering from this ongoing jaw discomfort, consulting a TMJ therapist or dentist trained in TMJ therapy may provide relief.

  • Arthritis 

Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, which involves wear and tear of the joints, can also manifest in the TMJ area. The inflammation and bone spur formation cause stiffness, swelling, and tenderness in the jaw muscles and joints.

  • Teeth grinding/clenching (Bruxism) 

Another major contributor to chronic jaw discomfort is bruxism. Studies indicate that 8% of middle-aged adults and 3% of older adults grind their teeth regularly, particularly while sleeping.

This constant grinding motion can put severe pressure on the jaw joints and muscles, which may result in pain, soreness, and headaches.

  • Injury 

Previous injury to the jaw, face, or head can also lead to lingering TMJ damage and discomfort. For instance, a forceful blow to the chin or side of the face may strain the ligaments and tendons surrounding the joint.  

  1. Professional treatment approaches for chronic jaw pain 

Dealing with chronic jaw pain can be agonizing. Thankfully, there are many effective medical and dental treatments available that could provide more robust and lasting pain management.  

  • Physical therapy 

Physical therapy, otherwise known as TMJ therapy, is often one of the first professional treatments recommended for chronic jaw pain.

The focus is on stretching tight muscles, strengthening weak ones, and improving range of motion.

Massage techniques like trigger point therapy and myofascial release can also provide tremendous relief by releasing muscle knots and tension.

  • Dental guard/splint 

Another option is having a custom dental guard or splint made by your dentist to wear over your teeth.

The rigid plastic guard helps take pressure off the jaw joint and prevents grinding or clenching at night. So, it both protects the joint and gives the muscles a break.  

  • Medications 

If more conservative treatments prove ineffective, prescription medications may be prescribed. These are usually reserved for more severe cases with intense inflammation or muscle spasms.  

  • Trigger point injections

Some doctors may use trigger point injections to target specific intensely painful spots in the jaw muscles that don’t respond to massage.

The injection contains a numbing medication to provide immediate localized pain relief. While not a cure, it can break the pain cycle.  

  • Surgery 

Finally, surgery is typically a last resort option for significant joint injury, frequent dislocations, or improper alignment. The surgery aims to repair damage, remove obstructions, or reposition the joint.

Full joint replacement surgery involves implanting an artificial joint device. Though relatively rare, this option exists for those with severe arthritis or degeneration.  

  1. Conservative treatment solutions  

If the chronic jaw pain you’re experiencing is mild, although frequent, there are some simple at-home remedies you can try to ease jaw discomfort and find some relief.

These conservative options are easy to implement yourself and often provide noticeable improvements.

  • Heat/ice therapy 

One of the most basic go-to treatments is alternating hot and cold therapy on the jaw area. The heat helps relax tight muscles and promote blood flow, while ice reduces inflammation and numbs pain.

So, switching between heat packs and ice packs during the day can offer the benefits of both.

  • Gentle jaw exercises 

Gentle jaw exercises are another easy DIY approach. Carefully stretching the jaw muscles by slowly opening and closing your mouth, moving it side to side, and massaging the joint can loosen uptightness.

A study also reports that these exercises can reduce chronic jaw pain and restore TMJ mobility when done regularly.  

  • Soft foods diet 

Eating a soft foods diet is another effective way to give the jaw muscles and joints a break from prolonged chewing.

Foods like yogurt, eggs, soups, mashed vegetables, protein shakes, and the like require minimal effort to eat, allowing the jaw to rest.

  • Stress management 

Finding ways to address chronic stress, whether through relaxation techniques, counseling, or lifestyle adjustments, also helps since stress often manifests physically, leading to symptoms like jaw pain.

By making time for mindfulness, yoga, and other stress-relieving activities, you can indirectly alleviate discomfort and promote overall well-being.


Living with constant jaw pain is no picnic, but don’t lose hope. As you can see, there are many potential treatment options to explore, from simple home remedies to more advanced medical therapies.

By working closely with your dentist, doctor, physical therapist, and other providers, you can craft a customized pain management plan. So, don’t give up the search for what works for you. Relief is within reach.