Occasional jaw pain in the morning isn’t unusual, especially if you sleep on your side or rest against your hand. However, if it’s persistent and continues throughout the day, it might be an indication that something is wrong. Since jaw pain often relates to the mandible and teeth, you’ll make more progress consulting your dentist rather than your physician. 

At ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Clackamas, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. Gary Chapman examines your mouth and jaw, and lets you know if  your morning discomfort is actually TMJ pain.

Common causes of jaw pain 

A sore jaw might not be anything to feel overly concerned about, at least not at first. You might assume that you slept wrong, or perhaps you ate something tough or chewy the day before. However, recurring jaw pain and morning headaches are something to look out for. If left untreated, the pain may follow you throughout the day and lead to restless sleep. 

The most common causes of jaw pain are bruxism (teeth grinding) and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. 


People who grind their teeth exert up to 250 pounds of pure force on their teeth as they do, which increases their risk of chips, cracks, fractures, and enamel loss. Your teeth aren’t the only thing affected by bruxism. The tension and force commonly leads to morning headaches and muscle soreness, especially in the jaw. 

TMJ disorder 

Your temporomandibular joints lie on either side of your jaw, hinges holding your mandible in place. If your jaw becomes injured or misaligned, you might develop TMJ disorder. Common symptoms include pain after chewing, sleeping, or resting your head in your hand, as well as “clicking” when you open and close your mouth.

Other causes of jaw pain

Generally speaking, jaw pain falls under the TMJ umbrella, though your disorder may have a more specific cause. Other reasons for jaw pain and TMJ disorder include: 

  • Injury to the jaw 
  • Disc degeneration in the cervical spine
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Crooked teeth 
  • Misaligned bite 

Alleviating chronic morning jaw pain 

If you’re suffering from jaw pain, don’t let it continue disrupting your sleep and troubling your mornings. Your dentist will be able to examine your jaw and teeth to determine where the problem lies, and there are solutions for most causes of jaw pain.

 If you suffer from bruxism, we can prevent teeth grinding with a custom-fitted nightguard. While it can take some getting used to, these are custom-designed to fit your mouth and keep you from clenching your jaw while you sleep. 

TMJ disorders are treated on a case-by-case basis, depending on what’s causing the pain. If your bite is to blame, orthodontic treatment using braces or clear aligners can correct the issue while also straightening your smile. 

To learn more about jaw pain and TMJ disorders, schedule a consultation by calling ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics at 503-336-1883, or request an appointment online


Call Us Text Us
Skip to content