Facial pain is one of the most common symptoms of TMJ, but TMJ isn’t the only cause of facial pain. Here are some other potential causes of facial pain that your doctor might diagnose during a consultation.

woman with facial pain

Common Causes of Facial Pain

There are many common causes of facial pain that we have to consider, such as sinus infections, dental cavities or infected teeth, and — unfortunately more common these days — mumps.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition in which the trigeminal nerve spontaneously begins causing pain. Sometimes it may be because the nerve is experiencing pressure. It may also be associated with pressure experienced in the past, especially traumatic events.

Trigeminal neuralgia results in a sudden, shocking pain that can last just a few seconds or several minutes. These surges of pain can recur frequently in attacks that can last for hours.

Usually, the pain is only on one side of the face, and limited to one branch of the trigeminal nerve, but it can sometimes be located on either side of the head and may affect all branches of the trigeminal nerve.

Sometimes, pressure on the trigeminal nerve may be related to TMJ.

Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA)

In GCA, the linings of certain arteries can begin to swell. This is painful, similar to migraines, and affects your head where the temporal artery is. It can also cause fatigue, fevers, and flu-like symptoms. If not treated promptly, GCA can lead to vision loss because it can block blood flow to the eye.Typical treatment is steroid injections to bring down the swelling.

Salivary Gland Stones

If you experience pain when you’re eating that occurs along your jaw at the bottom of your mouth, but isn’t actually associated with muscle or jaw movement, you may have salivary gland stones. These stones, also known as calculi or sialolithiasis, are mineral deposits in your salivary ducts. They cause pain when your body tries to produce saliva and the ducts fill up. Pain may be worse when you eat acidic or sour foods. You might notice dry mouth, the presence of the stone at the bottom of the mouth, fever, or swelling of your salivary glands. This is treated by removing the stones.

Carotid Artery Dissection

This occurs when there’s a tear in the inner layer of your carotid artery, and blood flows out to separate the layers of your artery, causing significant pain. It can be caused by trauma to the artery, or it can be spontaneous. If you have a family history of this condition, you should be aware of your risk, but for most people this is very rare. You may experience Horner syndrome (constricted pupil, half the face limp, and loss of sweat on one side of the face), pain that stretches from the neck, through the face, and into the head, and may experience a stroke.

Facial Tumors

Facial tumors are very rare causes of facial pain. Tumors in the facial region can occur in the jaw, nose, or elsewhere. You may experience obstruction of  your nose, lose the ability to move part of your face, or lose hearing along with certain tumors.


If you have painful, blistering rashes on your face, sores in your ear, or on the tip of your nose, then you may have facial pain related to herpes zoster

Atypical Facial Pain

This is the final diagnosis if neither we nor your doctor can link your pain to any particular condition. This is more likely the cause if the pain is related to stress or mood changes.

Is Your Doctor Unable to Treat Your Pain?

If you’ve been going to a doctor for treatment of your facial pain, but you’re not getting good results, it may be time to consider another option. Please call (201) 343-4044 today for an appointment with River Edge TMJ dentist Dr. Marlen Martirossian, who can track down the cause of your symptoms using neuromuscular dentistry.