If you’ve ever had a toothache or experienced the pain of a cracked jaw, you know how it feels. You can’t function properly, and any movement of your mouth is extremely painful. Jaw pain is common in adults and children alike. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to ease the pain and get your day started on the right foot.
But waking up with a sore jaw, and not knowing why can be confused and even distressing.
Waking up with jaw pain can be caused by a number of things, including teeth grinding or teeth clenching, cavities or gum disease, sinus inflammation and even sleeping position.
It’s important to understand the cause of your jaw pain so that you can get treatment if it persists. In this article, we’ll explore the causes of waking up with a sore jaw and some helpful tips for managing it. However as always, if you’re worried and have an issue, you must speak to your doctor.
What Causes Jaw Pain When Waking Up?
If you wake up with jaw pain it’s important that you seek medical attention to rule out more serious conditions such as cancer or infection. Here’s what you should know about waking up with jaw pain:
1. Teeth Grinding
Jaw pain can be caused by a number of things, even as simple as teeth grinding.
The muscles around your jaw may be tense due to stress or anxiety, causing you to clench your teeth together while sleeping. This can cause the jaw muscles to become sore and stiff in the morning.
Bruxism (grinding) occurs when you clench and grind your teeth together during sleep without realizing it—often because of stress or anxiety—and can actually wear down tooth enamel over time if left untreated.
In most cases where there is no visible trauma or additional complications that might cause this kind of discomfort, it’s likely just due to stress on muscles from clenching or grinding during sleep (a natural process).
But if this is happening to you often enough throughout the night without any relief from anti-inflammatories or other medication then it could mean you’ve developed TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), which affects about 11-12 millions of Americans over age 30 according to some estimates — more on that later.
An infection in your mouth or throat can also lead to pain upon waking up—especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or swelling.
In rarer cases, jaw pain could actually be caused by an infection or even cancerous tumors within the bones of your skull. If you have been experiencing persistent issues with your teeth for more than two weeks, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
3. TMJ Disorder
If you’re waking up with a sore jaw every morning, it could be a sign of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. TMJ disorders affect the joints in your jaw and can cause pain and headaches. TMJ disorders are common but often misunderstood.
If you wake up with jaw pain on a consistent basis (and especially if it wakes you up), then you could have TMJD. This condition is characterized by joint misalignment in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) region of your mouth—the area where your upper and lower jaws meet each other.
The symptoms may include clicking, popping and locking during opening or closing of your mouth. This problem is often associated with jaw clenching or grinding teeth at night, causing pain in one side of the face and ear that is worse when chewing on that side.
There are many potential causes of TMJ disorders including stress, injury, or grinding your teeth at night (bruxism). If you are experiencing jaw pain along with headaches and tiredness, it’s likely that you have bruxism.
Some people believe that grinding their teeth helps them sleep better at night—but this isn’t true! In fact, bruxism can lead to serious jaw problems like TMJ disorder, which causes a clicking sound in your jaw when you chew and talk; loss of tooth structure (cavities); and gum disease that leads to tooth loss if not treated early on.
It’s important to talk with your doctor about possible treatments for this condition as soon as possible—the sooner you get treatment for TMJ disorder the better chance you’ll have of finding relief from its symptoms.
When To See A Doctor
If your jaw pain is severe, persistent, you’re concerned, or the pain continues to get worse, it’s important to see a doctor. If you have a fever or cold or flu symptoms that include sore throat and swollen glands—especially if they occur along with jaw pain—you should also seek medical attention.
And if you have been diagnosed with a medical condition such as arthritis or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), make sure to tell your dentist about this before any dental procedure is performed.
If you have had jaw pain in the past, it may be helpful for your dentist to know about this so that they can help prevent further incidents of discomfort by taking extra precautionary measures during treatment times.
Treatment for Jaw Pain When Waking Up
There are several treatments that you can try to reduce jaw pain, including:
- Use a heat pack or take ibuprofen (Advil) to help ease the swelling and reduce pain. If your jaw is still sore even after taking these measures, there may be something else going on.
- Massage the area as often as possible for as long as it takes for you to feel less discomfort.
- Use a mouth guard at night while sleeping if you grind your teeth at night or feel more discomfort during the day because of this behavior. The mouth guard will protect both your teeth and your jaw from additional damage caused by grinding them together too forcefully when you sleep.
Tips For Managing Your Jaw Pain
Jaw pain can be caused by many factors. While some causes are not completely avoidable, it is possible to reduce your risk of jaw pain by making small lifestyle changes. Consider the following questions:
- What do you eat? Your diet can have a big impact on how healthy your teeth and gums are, which in turn affect your ability to chew.
- How do you sleep? Poor posture while sleeping leads to muscle tension that may cause jaw pain. Try sleeping on an extra-firm mattress or pillow, both of which will support the natural curve of your neck as well as maintain proper alignment between your head and shoulders while lying down at night.
- How active are you? Being physically active has been shown to improve overall oral health due to improved circulation in the mouth area as well as decreased stress levels from exercise that can further lead to reduced inflammation throughout the body (including around all joints).
Home Remedies For Waking Up With Jaw Pain
You can take a few steps at home to help ease your jaw pain.
- Massaging the area with ice.
- Applying a warm compress to the area.
- Taking a break from whatever you were doing when you began experiencing pain.
- Avoiding chewing gum, smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol during this time period as well; all three of these activities can further irritate and inflame your jaw joint.
Remember that there are many things that can trigger chronic jaw pain and have you waking up with a sore jaw every day, so it’s important to take steps to prevent future flare-ups.
Some suggestions include: avoiding stressors such as loud noises and high temperatures; sleeping on your back instead of your side or stomach (the position in which most people sleep), practicing simple tongue and jaw exercises daily (such as those provided by dentists), using over-the-counter pain medication when necessary—and getting help from a dentist if these tips aren’t enough!
The best suggestion we can give, however, is going to a doctor.
Our Final Thoughts: Waking Up With Jaw Pain
While jaw pain is an annoying symptom of many health issues, it doesn’t need to be a cause for concern. As long as you are aware of the causes and symptoms, you can take steps to prevent it from happening again.
If your jaw pain persists or you’re concerned, make sure that you seek medical attention right away. This way, doctors will be able to diagnose and treat your condition quickly so they don’t miss any crucial information about what might have caused it in the first place. In fact we always recommend going to your doctor for any jaw pain.