Why Does My Jaw Hurt When I Wake Up? 3 Common Causes

Why does my jaw hurt

Why does my jaw hurt when I wake up? If you wake up in the morning with a pain in your jaw, there are many questions that may run through your mind. It’s even more probable for you to ponder on its causes, as well as the effect of jaw pain.

Now, does you jaw feel kinda stiffed and painful? Does it ache you for a while before it goes away as the day progresses? Can your jaw hurt from sleeping on it? Should you be worried about why does your jaw hurt when you wake up? Should you visit a dentist for a proper diagnosis?

All these are technical questions that could pave way to the causes of your jaw pain and the next step to take to solve jaw aching.

This article will consider some of the most common causes that could answer your question, that is, why does my jaw hurt when I wake up?

3 Common Causes To Why Does My Jaw Hurt When I Wake Up In The Morning?

Below are some of the common causes to jaw pain in the morning:

1. Teeth Grinding/ Bruxism

Teeth Grinding or bruxism is the most common causes to why your jaw hurt when you wake up. This is because it causes too much stress on the muscles in your jaw.

Now, let’s consider what teeth grinding is!

Teeth grinding can be defined as the act of clenching or grinding your teeth against each other. This act of clenching or grinding may occur subconsciously or consciously and this happens mostly when you are asleep. Other situations that may warrant such effect on the jaw muscle is when some people grind their teeth when they are stressed, frustrated or anxious.

“There is an estimation that 8-31% of the population get to suffer from teeth grinding, which is mostly caused by stress or anxiety. The body responds to this in the night by grinding or clenching of teeth”

It can get even weirder. This act of incessant grinding of teeth can be regarded more serious when it is nocturnal bruxism. This is when the grinding becomes quite hard to control.

Hence, such teeth-grinding or clenching may be the reason as to why does my jaw hurt when I wake up. They becomes so, because your teeth has become para-functional for things or activities they are not quite needed for.

Your teeth are expected to be separated without making contact when you are asleep, but if they are repeatedly grounded together, this may put more pressure on the muscle in the jaw and cause pain.

The common causes of bruxism

Earlier, we considered few of the causes of bruxism or teeth grinding which could as well be the cause to why my jaw hurt when I wake up. The other notable causes of bruxism are:

  1. Anxiety disorders
  2. Allergies
  3. Sleep disorders
  4. Trauma
  5. Smoking
  6. Drinking alcoholic and caffeinated beverages
  7. High stress levels

What Are The Symptoms of Bruxism?

If your jaw hurt when you wake up, then, it’s more probable that you might have noticed some of these symptoms of bruxism. Having knowledge about these symptoms may give you more clue to easily identify why does my jaw hurt when I wake up.

The common symptoms of bruxism are Worn down teeth, Ear and headaches, Tooth sensitivity toward hot, cold or sweet foods, Insomnia and Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ/TMD).

2. Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ/TMD)

Another possible reason that could solve your question to why does my jaw hurt when I wake up is TMJ.

What is Temporomandibular Joint?

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the delicate and small and joint located right next to each of your ears and it is responsible for the all the activities that is related to jaw or mouth. Activities such as chewing, yawning and speaking are effected by this temporomandibular joint.

This temporomandibular joint poses more threat compared to bruxism. Although, you are not advised to come to a conclusion, but the usual symptoms of morning jaw pain and stiffness you experience might not just be bruxism. It night be TMJ disorder.

Hence, if the jaw pain persist, not only when you wake up in the morning but also through the day, you should consider visiting your dentist for professional evaluation or diagnosis. This could allow them to assess the jaw in your mouth and the tissues and provide you with the appropriate treatment.

Technically, TMJ/TMD occurs when the temporomandibular joint becomes damaged or inflamed due to an injury, inflammatory disorders, and other such issues.

What Are The Symptoms of TMJ?

There are some symptoms of TMJ that could be noticed aside the usual symptoms of morning jaw pain and stiffness.

The usual symptoms are:

  1. Severe jaw pain and discomfort affecting either one or both sides of the face,
  2. When there’s swelling around the jaw.
  3. When the jaw become stuck, closed or open.
  4. When you feel more pain when you open your mouth wide
  5. When you have difficulty chewing or bite.
  6. When your teeth ache. This aching could also affect the neck or ears.
  7. When you start having hearing problems or ringing in your ear
  8. When you suddenly hear clicking or popping sounds when you open and close your mouth

3. Stress and Anxiety

This is just for emphasis. The earlier causes are stress or anxiety related. Hence, you should find consider taking some stress relief treatment or doing some exercises that could enhance your body to be less proactive to stress.

Now, after considering the common reasons as to why does my jaw hurt when I wake up, let’s consider the treatment. How do you treat jaw pain?

How Do I Stop My Jaw From Hurting When I Wake Up?

Here some of the things you can do to help reduce jaw pain when you wake up. Some of these are just a needed adjustments in your lifestyle. They are:

  1. Avoiding taking caffeinated drinks in the afternoon
  2. Doing your best to relax and rest before you go to bed. You can do simple things that could aid stress free nights such as taking a warm shower or bath, or reading a book before going to bed.
  3. Take pain medication for temporary relief.
  4. Place a cold compress on your jaw to reduce pain and swelling.
  5. Avoid eating hard food, chewy food and gum.
  6. Make facial relaxation a habit so your jaw stays loose.
  7. Massage on the sore jaw joints to relieve tension.
  8. Wear a mouth guard nightly to prevent bruxism.
  9. Get fitted for an orthodontic appliance or retainer to reduce jaw discomfort and/or reposition the jaw joint.


Having taken a sneak peek as why does my jaw hurt when I wake up, it’s recommended that you visit the nearest dentist if you feel the situation requires an extra examination. Taking such precautionary step could aid quick recovery and avoid more threatening situations.

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About Ralph

A blogger, writer, artist with unrivaled interest. Majorly interested in sharing latest updates, opportunities, celebrity gists and news; and other insurance and tech-related articles.

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