Jaw Pain and Headache on One Side: Possible Causes

jaw pain

Jaw Pain and Headache Only on One Side: Causes and What to Do


Do you often experience jaw pain and unilateral headache? Do you find yourself frequently getting headaches on one side of your head? While these symptoms can be easily dismissed, it’s important to understand that they could be linked to a more serious underlying condition. In this article, we’ll explore the connection between jaw pain and unilateral headaches, provide an overview of the types, causes, common conditions that cause both pains as well as preventive measures to help avoid them. 

Understanding Jaw Pain: Causes and Symptoms 

Jaw pain can be described as aches or pains felt in the area of your jawbone including the sides, front or back. It can range from mild to severe depending on what is causing it. The most common causes of jaw pain are dental problems such as toothache or infection, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, arthritis and bruxism. Symptoms of jaw pain may include difficulty in swallowing, earaches, headaches and tenderness when opening the mouth or applying pressure to the area. 

An Overview of Unilateral Headaches: Types and Causes 

Unilateral headache is a condition where one side of the head experiences a painful sensation that can last for several hours to days. These types of headaches usually occur due to tension or stress, migraine attacks, sinusitis infections or trauma injuries that cause inflammation. The intensity can range from mild to severe and it often accompanied by nausea, throbbing sensations and sensitivity to sound or light. 

The Connection Between Jaw Pain and Headaches 

In some cases, jaw pain and unilateral headaches can be linked to each other. The TMJ is the joint connecting your lower jawbone to your skull which allows you to open and close your mouth. When this joint becomes injured or inflamed, it can cause both pains in the jaw as well as headaches on one side of the head due to a nerve connection between them. 

Common Conditions That Can Cause Both Jaw Pain and Headaches 

Several conditions such as bruxism, arthritis, infections in the ear or sinus cavities, temporomandibular disorders (TMD) or certain medications can all lead to jaw pain and unilateral headaches. Bruxism is the unconscious grinding and clenching of teeth, which can irritate the TMJ and cause inflammation. Arthritis in the TMJ is a chronic condition that develops over time due to wear and tear as well as injury or trauma to the joint. 

Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Unilateral Headache and Jaw Pain 

To accurately diagnose the cause of jaw pain and unilateral headaches, a doctor will perform a physical exam, discuss medical history and lifestyle habits with the patient, as well as order imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may involve medications to reduce inflammation, physical therapy exercises that focus on stretching and strengthening the muscles in the jaw area, stress reduction techniques or mouth guards. 

Preventive Measures 

Following preventive steps can help avoid occurrences of jaw pain and unilateral headaches: avoiding chewing gum or eating hard foods that require excessive use of the jaw joint; practicing good oral hygiene by brushing teeth regularly; drinking plenty of water; and avoiding stressful situations. It is also helpful to avoid sleeping on the side with pain in the jaw or head. 

When to Seek Medical 

If any of these symptoms persists for more than a week, it’s important to consult a doctor as soon as possible. In some cases, jaw pain and unilateral headaches may indicate more serious conditions such as strokes, tumors or infections which need medical attention immediately. 


Jaw pain and unilateral headaches are common ailments that can be caused by many different conditions. Taking preventive measures such as avoiding certain foods, drinking plenty of water, practicing good oral hygiene and managing stress levels can help reduce occurrences of this type of discomfort. However, if symptoms persist beyond a week’s time, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.