What Are the Causes of Jaw Pain & Pain in the Temples?

Numerous conditions can cause jaw pain and pain in the temples. According to MedlinePlus, jaw pain may be caused by traumatic injury or by certain medical conditions 1. In some cases, jaw pain is accompanied by pain in the sides of the head, or temples. While separate conditions can cause jaw pain and temple pain, they are often linked by a common cause. Jaw pain and pain in the temples range from mild to severe.

TMJ Disorders

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, or NIDCR, TMJ disorders are a collection of conditions that involve dysfunction of one or both jaw joints and the muscles that govern their movement 12. Approximately 10 million Americans are believed to suffer from TMJ disorders, notes the NIDCR, and they are more common among women than men 1. There are three principle categories of TMJ disorders: myofascial pain, derangement of the jaw joint, and inflammatory and degenerative jaw joint disorders 1.


MayoClinic.com states that bruxism is a condition characterized by jaw and teeth grinding or clenching. Many people are unaware they have bruxism, unconsciously grinding or clenching their jaw and teeth both during the day and at night. Teeth grinding at night is called sleep bruxism. Bruxism ranges from mild to severe. Mild cases of bruxism may not require treatment. More severe cases can lead to numerous health problems, such as jaw problems, headaches and tooth damage. Common signs and symptoms associated with bruxism include:

  • teeth grinding that may wake a sleeping partner
  • flattened or chipped teeth
  • loss of tooth enamel
  • jaw pain
  • headache
  • jaw tightness
  • hypertrophied or enlarged jaw muscles
  • earache
  • face pain
  • heightened tooth sensitivity

According to MayoClinic.com, most cases of bruxism respond well to stress reduction techniques.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, or NINDS, trigeminal neuralgia is a long-term pain disorder that involves severe, sporadic burning or electrical shock-like face pain 24. In most cases, trigeminal neuralgia-related pain lasts anywhere from several seconds to a couple of minutes. Although the duration of the pain is short, it can be debilitating, both mentally and physically. Trigeminal neuralgia-related pain usually manifests on one side of the face. The NINDS states that trigeminal neuralgia may be caused by a blood vessel compressing or irritating the trigeminal nerve as it exits the brainstem.