Jaw Pain During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Oral health is one that might get affected during pregnancy. There are several pregnancy-induced jaws and dental problems and jaw pain is one such condition. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction could be one of the reasons for jaw pain during pregnancy. The TMJ is the two joints present on each side of the face. TMJ dysfunction is an umbrella term for musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions involving the TMJ.

All You Need to Know About Jaw Pain During Pregnancy

Causes of Jaw Pain During Pregnancy

  • Hormonal changes
    Estrogen and relaxin hormones rise in pregnancy. These hormones increase the laxity of all the joints in the body to help in childbirth. However, it might lead to joint stretching and pain including in the TMJ.
  • Grinding of the teeth
    The involuntary grinding of teeth is known as Bruxism which is often associated with anxiety or stress. Women prone to Bruxism could experience an increase in teeth grinding is one of the causes of jaw pain and TMJ dysfunction.
  • Morning sickness
    Vomiting may produce excess pressure on the shoulder and neck muscles. The jaw needs to be thrust forward vigorously to expel the contents of the stomach. Frequent vomiting can strain or even sprain the jaw muscles. It can lead to pain in the TMJ.
    jaw pain during pregnancy
  • Lack of calcium
    The baby in the womb needs calcium for skeleton development. Calcium is needed the most in the second and third trimester of pregnancy. If there is insufficient calcium in the mother’s blood, then the body draws it from the bones to supply to the fetus which might cause bone weakness and jaw pain is expecting mothers.
  • Sleeping on one side
    Pregnant women find it comfortable and easy to sleep on one side throughout the night. Sleeping on one side might put pressure on the muscles of the jaw and lead to jaw pain.
  • TMJ disorders
    History of TMJ pain and problems might display an increase in the severity of jaw pain due to hormonal changes.
  • Abscessed tooth
    An infection that causes pus collection at the base of the root of the tooth is known as an abscess. It causes tooth pain and might cause radiating pain in the entire jaw, intraoral or extraoral swelling, fever, tooth mobility etc.
  • ENT infection
    An infection in the ear, nose or throat might cause pain that can reach to the jaws.
  • Wisdom teeth
    When the wisdom teeth begin to erupt this might push against other teeth and make movement. This could cause stiffness and discomfort in the jaw. The pain from wisdom teeth radiates to the entire jaw or the TMJ.
  • Cardiovascular condition
    Some individuals with cardiac disease have pain in jaws and TMJ. It is generic for pregnant and non-pregnant patients.
  • Injury
    Any injury on the muscles of the jaw, neck, or the head, due to an accident such as blow or a fall, might also cause pain in the jaw.

Symptoms of Jaw Pain During Pregnancy

  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Difficulty in opening the mouth
  • Limitation on the range of motion of the jaw
  • TMJ clicking
  • TMJ locking
  • Tension in the face
  • Swelling on one side of the face
  • Frequent headaches in the temple region
  • Morning headaches on waking up
  • Sore jaw muscles
  • Neck tension

Tips to Manage

  • Soft diet
  • Ice application
  • Restricted mouth opening
  • Alteration in sleeping position
  • Posture changes

Diagnosis of Jaw Pain During Pregnancy

Visit the doctor if there jaw pain during pregnancy. There is no specific diagnostic test to evaluate TMJ disorders.

Treatment for Jaw Pain During Pregnancy

  • Jaw exercises and physical therapy – doctor might recommend physical therapy for relief from pain.
  • Massage – gentle self-massage techniques that can be done several times a day.
  • Acupuncture – it might help in managing the symptoms.
  • Medications – oral medicines like paracetamol may be prescribed for pain. The topical application of pain relief and anti-spasm gels are also recommended. In case of severe pain, the doctor might recommend pain relief injection at the site of pain. Never take medicines by own and only stick to prescription medicines.
  • Breathing techniques – to ease out the stress and to relax the tensed muscles.
  • Root canal treatment – if the cause of jaw pain is due to severe dental abscess, root canal treatment is done. This treatment is not contraindicated in pregnancy but if not an emergency, then the doctor might postpone it until after the delivery. If jaw pain emerges early in pregnancy, then the second trimester is time the safest to get dental procedures done along with antibiotic coverage.
  • Extraction – if the tooth infection is severe or the tooth is fractured then the doctor might advise its removal. Although elective extractions must be avoided in pregnancy, emergency extractions can be performed in pregnancy.
  • Mouthguard – it is a habit-breaking appliance for habits like bruxism. It does not let the upper and lower teeth come in contact and could help relieve TMJ pain.
  • Oral bite plates – it is similar to mouthguards and works as a cushion between the teeth. These plates could help reduce jaw muscle pain and tightness.


Jaw pain during pregnancy can occur for various reasons so follow good oral hygiene habits to avoid dental issues. Contact the doctor for proper treatment.