TMJ-Related Face Pain

TMJ-related face pain comes from a few primary sources:

  • Muscle pain
  • Nerve pain
  • Referred pain

Facial muscle pain, also called masticatory muscle pain, is essentially the same as muscular jaw pain, except that it is identified as being “face pain.” The masticatory muscles (chewing muscles) underlie much of the face, with attachments that include the side of the head behind and above the eyes, under and on the cheekbones, just under the eyes and even alongside the nose.

Nerve pain associated with TMJ results from pressure on nerves that come from places in the facial area. These pains can be dull or aching as well as sharp.

Referred pain is when pain from one place in the body is felt in another place. The phenomenon is surprisingly common. TMJ can cause facial pain because the pain from the jaw joint or muscles is actually being felt as coming from the face.

dreamstime_s_22994656Other Causes of Facial Pain

When considering whether your facial pain is being caused by TMJ, we have to look at alternate causes for this symptom.

The most common cause of facial pain is sinus-related. Sinus infections or congestion can result in significant pain in the face.

Dental pain can also be felt as facial pain. Typically, a cavity or infection of an upper tooth in need of a root canal causes significant pain that is felt as facial pain.

Trigeminal neuralgia is a serious but relatively uncommon cause of facial pain. In trigeminal neuralgia, the trigeminal nerve, which carries pain signals from most of the face, is experiencing pressure somewhere at or near the point where the nerve enters the skull. The result is serious pain that typically affects one side of the face.

Swelling and infection of the salivary glands, including that caused by mumps, can cause significant facial pain.

If you have eliminated these and other common causes of face pain, TMJ may be to blame. To learn whether TMJ is responsible for your face pain, please call (201) 343-4044 or email the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Marlen Martirossian.