What Are the Causes of Jaw Pain & Pain in the Temples?

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What Are the Causes of Jaw Pain & Pain in the Temples?
Jaw and temple pain are caused by TMJ or TMD. (headache image by forca from Fotolia.com)

Jaw pain and pain in the temples are symptoms of temporomandibular disorder (TMD) or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. The temporomandibular muscle and joint connect the jaw to the side of the head. The areas affected by the disorders include the jaw, neck and face.

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The temporomandibular muscle and joint are in front of your ears on either side of your head and connect your lower jaw to your skull. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, "Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn."


Known causes of TMD and TMJ include grinding (or bruxing), clenching, facial trauma, joint injury, stress, fatigued muscles caused by excessive chewing/biting, bite misalignment or arthritis. According to the Mayo Clinic, "In many cases, however, the cause of TMJ symptoms isn't clear."


TMD and TMJ symptoms include headaches, jaw pain or popping, tenderness in jawbone, ear pain or popping, chewing discomfort, facial fatigue or aching, bite misalignment, lockjaw or limited jaw mobility. Visit your doctor if you experience rasping, grating or clicking while chewing or if you cannot open/close your jaw properly.


To help alleviate symptoms, avoid grinding or clenching, alleviate stress, use heat and ice on the affected area, sleep on your back, avoid placing your hand under your chin, avoid excessive jaw motion, eat soft foods and avoid chewing hard foods such as ice. Your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medicines, surgery, electrical nerve stimulation, ultrasound treatment or trigger-point injections.


Visit your doctor to learn about your particular condition and treatments that will best serve you. Search for physicians or dentists specialising in TMJ or TMD.

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