Toothache or TMJ Disorder? Differentiating the Pain

Toothache, TMJ relief

Any pain in the face or mouth can bring a dreadful experience. No one enjoys the unbearable discomfort it causes. Aside from a toothache, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can also cause a throbbing mouth and facial ache. This kind of pain can automatically bring patients to a dentist or doctor. 

Toothache and TMJ pain can also be causes of confusion. It is easy to think that you need toothache relief when you really need TMJ relief or vice versa. Understanding the source of your pain can help you find the proper care and avoid unnecessary medications or procedures for your problem. 

So, let us help you know the differences between toothache and TMJ so you won’t get confused. 


Is It Tooth Cavity or TMJ Pain?

TMJ pain is often mistaken for toothache. This kind of pain can travel through your jaw muscles and joints and radiate to your mouth. And just like toothache, TMJ pain does not just rest on these common areas. The pain can also flow outward, causing you to feel pain in the neck, head, and shoulders. This makes it harder for anyone to tell where the pain is really coming from. 

To tell what sets TMJ pain apart from a toothache, you may want to look at their different symptoms.

Signs of TMJ Pain

A TMJ disorder can affect the jaw joint and its muscles. The easiest way to identify TMJ pain quickly is by understanding what its symptoms feel like. Here’s a quick list of the classic signs of a TMJ disorder. 

  • Throbbing pain in the jaw
  • Tenderness or swelling of the jaw joint
  • Radiating pain in or around the ear
  • Feelings of pain or discomfort when chewing, eating, or talking
  • Ringing in the ear or tinnitus
  • Hearing problems
  • Locked jaw or difficulty closing or opening the mouth
  • Mild to severe headaches
  • Fatigue and pain within your facial muscles
  • Obvious clicking sound when you move your mouth

Signs of Toothache

Just like TMJ pain, toothaches can also range from a slight disturbance to excruciating pain. It can affect your mood and activities for the day. In addition, it can also glue you to bed until the pain is finally over. Here are the common toothache signs you need to watch out for: 

  • Dull, sharp, or throbbing pain in or around a tooth
  • Some swelling around the gums or tooth
  • Headache and fever
  • Bad mouth odor
  • Tooth sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Toothache after eating acidic or sweet foods
  • Bleeding around the gums or a tooth


Can TMJ Disorder Cause Toothache?

A TMJ disorder brings about radiating pain to the mouth, tooth, and face because of its location in the head. The TMJ is located near some facial nerves, muscles, and ligaments. A TMJ disorder can damage the muscles around the jaw joint and cause them to tighten up. 

So, when your toothache lasts for days, and no dental solution relieves it, then your pain might be rooting from your TMJ. Unfortunately, many patients experience misdiagnosis due to the similarity between TMJ disorder, toothache, and other conditions.

Toothache, TMJ relief






4 Best Ways to Enjoy TMJ Relief

The debilitating effects of TMJ disorder, such as jaw pain and toothache, can affect someone’s life. The good news is there are four ways to relieve TMJ pain naturally. They are as follows:

Using a cold or hot compress

Ice can help reduce any swelling and pain within your jaw. On the other hand, heat can increase the flow of blood and help relax your tensed muscles. That is why a hot or cold compress is one of the most accessible home remedies in relieving TMJ pain.  

Getting gentle jaw massages

Simple and gentle jaw massages can help reduce and release muscle tension in the jaw. They also help alleviate inflamed jaw muscles that are causing you toothache and headache. In addition, a massage to relieve TMJ pain can be more effective when paired with certain jaw exercises.

Performing simple jaw exercises

Simple and quick jaw exercises can help relieve your TMJ pain. It is best to perform jaw exercises after gently massaging the affected area. Strengthening jaw exercises are most suitable to perform before or after TMJ flare-ups. Do not perform them in the middle of a TMJ pain episode, as these exercises can make things worse. Here is one strengthening exercise that you can do to relieve TMJ pain.

  • Open your mouth widely. Then, place your index finger in between your lower lip and chin. Using your index finger, push your skin inward while you close your mouth. 

Receiving upper cervical chiropractic care

Do you want a solution that provides more than just temporary TMJ relief? If yes, then you might want to try upper cervical chiropractic care. There is a close connection between your upper neck and the temporomandibular joint. A misalignment in this intimate area can set the stage for debilitating TMJ pain. Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on examining your upper cervical spine and adjusting it back to proper alignment. Ultimately, a few adjustments can relieve pressure off your upper cervical spine and jaw, allowing natural recovery from the pain in no time.


Visit an Upper Cervical Chiropractor and Get TMJ Relief

As noted above, TMJ pain can be related to upper neck misalignment. Therefore, upper cervical chiropractic care can help best in relieving TMJ-induced pain. Practitioners in this field of upper cervical chiropractic focus solely on correcting the misalignment issue of the C1 and C2 bones of the spine through gentle adjustments. Once adjustments are administered, your body will have the opportunity to recover naturally. As a result, you can then feel immediate TMJ relief with long-term health benefits. 

To learn more about the other benefits of upper cervical chiropractic care, you may visit our website You may also prioritize consulting with an upper cervical chiropractor near you. You may be a few adjustments away from attaining better and optimal health.


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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.