Why Does My Jaw Hurt When I Wake up in Morning

Waking up with jaw pain can be an uncomfortable and perplexing experience. If you find yourself asking, “Why does my jaw hurt when I wake up?” you are not alone. Jaw pain upon waking can be caused by various factors, some of which may require attention and treatment. In this article, we will explore the common reasons behind morning jaw pain and what you can do to find relief.

Reasons of Jaw Hurt When I Wake up in Morning

  1. Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common culprit behind morning jaw pain. Grinding or clenching your teeth during sleep can place excessive pressure on the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint or TMJ) and the surrounding muscles. This leads to soreness and discomfort upon waking. Bruxism can be triggered by stress, anxiety, or an abnormal bite. Over time, untreated bruxism can cause significant damage to your teeth and jaw.
  2. TMJ Disorders: TMJ disorders occur when there are problems with the TMJ, the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. Conditions such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can lead to jaw pain, stiffness, and clicking or popping sounds when you open or close your mouth. TMJ disorders can be caused by injury, arthritis, or misalignment of the jaw joint.
  3. Sleeping Position: Your sleeping position can also contribute to jaw pain upon waking. Sleeping on your stomach or with your head in an awkward angle can put strain on your jaw and lead to discomfort.
  4. Malocclusion (Bad Bite): An improper bite alignment, known as malocclusion, can cause your jaw muscles to work harder than usual, resulting in jaw pain and fatigue.
  5. Gum Disease (Periodontitis): In some cases, jaw pain may be a symptom of advanced gum disease (periodontitis). When gum disease progresses, it can lead to the destruction of the supporting structures around the teeth, including the jawbone. This can cause pain and tenderness in the jaw area.
  6. Sinus Infections: Sinus infections can cause referred pain to the jaw, leading to discomfort upon waking. The pressure from congested sinuses can radiate to the jaw and face.
  7. Arthritis: Arthritis affecting the jaw joint can result in morning jaw pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the two most common types that can impact the jaw.
  8. Nighttime Clenching: Apart from grinding, nighttime clenching of the jaw can occur without grinding the teeth. This constant clenching can strain the jaw muscles and cause pain in the morning.

What Can You Do to Find Relief?

  1. Use a Nightguard: If you suspect bruxism or nighttime clenching, wearing a custom-fitted nightguard can help protect your teeth and alleviate pressure on the jaw joint.
  2. Practice Stress Management: Since stress can contribute to bruxism, incorporating stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, exercise, or relaxation exercises may be beneficial.
  3. Maintain Good Sleep Posture: Try sleeping on your back or side with proper support for your neck to reduce strain on your jaw.
  4. Apply Warm Compresses: Applying warm compresses to your jaw area can help relax the muscles and alleviate pain.
  5. Avoid Hard or Chewy Foods: Stick to a soft diet and avoid excessive chewing to give your jaw muscles a rest.
  6. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Prevent gum disease by practicing excellent oral hygiene habits, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups.
  7. Consult a Dental Professional: If the jaw pain persists or worsens, consult your dentist or a TMJ specialist for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan.


Morning jaw pain can disrupt your day and affect your overall well-being. Identifying the cause of your jaw pain is crucial for finding appropriate relief. Whether it’s bruxism, TMJ disorders, or another underlying issue, seeking professional dental advice is essential. By addressing the root cause and adopting preventive measures, you can wake up to a pain-free and rejuvenated morning experience. Remember, a healthy jaw leads to a happy smile.

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