Markham Dental Smiles
4630 Hwy 7 #2 Unionville ON L3R 1M5 (905) 477-6453

facebook-square twitter-square instagram chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down x phone location share chevron-thin-right calendar left-quote right-quote black-star-glasses-png eye book-appointment-maroon-icon-(1) types-of-services-white-icon-(1) location-white-icon next2 previous2 forward3 backward2
Exciting news – We're happily accepting new patients!

Unionville, ON
(905) 477-6453

single blog hero

Can TMJ Cause Tooth Pain?

The human body comprises a complex network of interconnected systems, where sometimes the slightest issue in one area can ripple out, causing unexpected symptoms elsewhere. One such example is the temporomandibular joint (known as TMJ). 

A problem in or around the temporomandibular joint can cause tooth pain, however, it can be difficult to distinguish tooth pain from TMJ or other dental issues. Your dentist can perform a dental exam to help determine the underlying cause of your tooth pain and recommend the appropriate treatment options. 

What is the Temporomandibular Joint?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a joint that acts as a sliding hinge connecting your jawbone to your skull. The TMJ joint located on each side of the jaw and in front of the ear, is crucial for essential functions such as talking, chewing, and yawning. 

Due to the joint’s complex structure, which involves muscles, ligaments, and bones, the TMJ is prone to disorders. TMJ disorder or TMD can cause a range of symptoms, including tooth pain.

Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

TMJ disorders can manifest in multiple ways, often making it difficult to pinpoint the cause. Here are some common symptoms of TMJ disorder:

  • Pain and tenderness: A constant ache or sharp pain in the jaw area, face, and temples.
  • Neck pain and headaches: Frequent headaches, particularly around the temples.
  • Ear pain: Discomfort or pain in or around the ears.
  • Sounds when opening or closing the mouth: Clicking, popping, grinding, or crunching when chewing, yawning, or opening the mouth.  

Given these symptoms, it’s no wonder that TMJ disorders can be easily confused with other conditions, including dental problems.

How TMJ Disorders Cause Tooth Pain

A woman in bed puts both hands on either side of her face in response to jaw pain from grinding teeth.

There are several ways TMJ disorders can lead to tooth pain.


Bruxism, or teeth grinding in your sleep, is a common side effect of TMJ disorders. The excessive pressure exerted on the teeth during grinding can lead to tooth sensitivity and pain. Over time, bruxism can also wear down tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to cavities and fractures.

Misalignment of the Jaw

When the jaw is misaligned due to TMJ disorders, it can lead to an uneven bite. The imbalance places more pressure on certain teeth, causing them to become sore and painful.

Radiating Pain

Because the TMJ joint is located near nerves, muscles, and ligaments, pain in the area can radiate upwards or downwards towards the mouth and teeth, mimicking toothache.

Distinguishing TMJ-Related Tooth Pain from Dental Issues

It can be challenging to differentiate between tooth pain caused by TMJ and that arising from dental problems such as cavities, gum disease, a cracked tooth, damaged fillings, or infections. Here are some clues to help you distinguish:

  • Location: TMJ-related tooth pain is often more generalized, affecting multiple teeth or areas of the mouth, whereas dental issues usually cause localized pain.
  • Trigger: What triggers your tooth pain? TMJ-related pain may worsen with jaw movement, while dental pain could be more pronounced when eating or drinking hot/cold foods.
  • Accompanying symptoms: If you experience other TMJ symptoms like jaw clicking, headaches, or ear pain alongside your toothache, it is more likely TMJ-related.

Managing TMJ-Related Tooth Pain

While professional care is essential for diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders, several home remedies and lifestyle changes can help manage the pain. Home remedies and lifestyle changes can include the following:

  • Compress: Apply a warm or cold compress to the jaw area to reduce muscle tension and relieve pain.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Non-prescription pain medications can help manage inflammation and pain. Speak to your health professional or dentist before taking any medication. 
  • Jaw movement: Avoid opening the jaw too wide, especially when yawning. 
  • Soft diet: Opt for soft foods that require minimal chewing to avoid straining the TMJ or cut food into smaller pieces. 
  • Jaw muscles: Gentle massages and relaxing the jaw muscles can help reduce stiffness.
  • Stress management: Since stress can exacerbate bruxism, incorporating relaxation techniques like mindfulness or yoga can be beneficial.
  • Proper posture: Maintaining good posture can prevent unnecessary strain on the jaw.
  • Mouth guards: Wearing a mouthguard at night can protect your teeth from grinding and alleviate TMJ symptoms.

When to Seek Professional Dental Care

Despite management strategies, you should seek professional dental care for a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Your dentist can offer specialized treatments such as:

  • Custom mouthguards: Tailor-made to fit your mouth, providing better protection and comfort.
  • Physical therapy: Specific exercises to strengthen the jaw muscles.
  • Medications: Prescriptions for muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Surgical options: In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to correct structural issues within the TMJ.

Personalized Dental Care & Treatment 

Understanding the connection between TMJ and tooth pain can empower you to take the necessary steps toward relief to improve your overall quality of life. If you are experiencing persistent tooth pain, jaw discomfort, or other related symptoms, book an appointment with Markham Dental Smiles for personalized care and treatment. 

Posted in TMJ

Visit Our Location

We would love to meet you at our Unionville office. We’re located on Highway 7, right next to the Shopper’s Drug Mart.


Markham Dental Smiles
4630 Hwy 7 #2
Unionville, ON, L3R 1M5

Contact Number

Phone: (905) 477-6453
Email: [email protected]


Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10:00AM - 7:00PM
Wednesday: 10:00AM - 7:00PM
Thursday: 10:00AM - 2:30PM
Friday: 10:00AM - 6:00PM
Saturday: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
Sunday: Closed