Types of Jaw Pain Linked to TMJ

Because TMJ can describe many different conditions, people may experience several different types. This might include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Pinched nerves
  • Toothache
  • Bone pain

You might experience any or all of these types of pain. Other people, though, might experience no jaw pain, even if they have other jaw-related symptoms. 

Muscle Pain

Muscle pain is the most common type of jaw pain linked to TMJ. The most common type of TMJ is myofascial pain disorder (MPD). In this condition, the jaw muscles are stressed and strained, causing muscle pain. Muscle pain is typically a dull ache. You might perceive this, but because the jaw muscles extend throughout the head, some people describe it as face pain or headache. Muscle pain commonly overlaps with ear-related symptoms like tinnitus.

Joint Pain

People with TMJ might experience pain directly in the jaw joint. This is more common when people have either disc displacement (DD) or degenerative joint disease (DJD), types of TMJ that affect the jaw joint more directly. 

Joint pain can be either sharp or dull, but it’s felt directly in the jaw joint. It is most likely to accompany symptoms like irregular jaw motion, jaw sounds, and locked jaw.

Pinched Nerves

There are many nerves that run through the temporomandibular joint area. Some run through narrow channels through or near bone. Others weave over or under jaw muscles. When the jaw is displaced or the muscles are tense, these muscles can get pinched, causing sharp, electric pains. Pinched nerves aren’t specific to any type of TMJ–they can occur with all types. Some types of pinched nerves are responsible for TMJ-related migraines.


Although toothache is not literally jaw pain, it can sometimes feel like it. Toothache in TMJ is most commonly associated with MPD. It might be caused by excessive pressure on the teeth due to imbalanced bite or clenching and grinding (bruxism). Other times, toothache is caused by actual damage to teeth, which might expose the tooth nerve.

Bone Pain

Our bones have few nerves, so they are less likely to be a source of pain. However, the pressure of TMJ can make the bones in the jaw or skull ache. This is most likely to be associated with MPD and with teeth clenching and grinding.

We Can Resolve Most Jaw Pain in Fort  Atkinson

While TMJ can take many different forms, there are effective treatments for most people with TMJ. If you’ve been suffering with TMJ for a long time, the first step for relief is getting a proper diagnosis. 

To schedule your first appointment to get a diagnosis, please call (920) 563-7323 today for an appointment with Dr. Stafford at Bite Align, serving Jefferson County from Fort Atkinson, WI.