Can A Car Accident Cause Jaw Pain?

Car accidents have an intense and often long-lasting effect on your body. You are traveling at high speeds in a steel vehicle, and you are suddenly stopped by a stationary object or another steel vehicle also traveling at high speeds. Your body is thrown around the inside of the car and often, there are parts of you that are affected by the impact that you may not expect like your jaw. So can a car accident cause jaw pain or jaw disorders…

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is a disorder related to the dysfunction of the jaw joint. You usually hear people speak about TMJ as a disorder related to chewing. So, what does your jaw joint have to do with a recent car accident?

The answer: 

checklistYes, a car accident can cause jaw painand the reason is simply because of the violence inherent in automobile acccidents. The forces of a car accident are enormous. Even if you were wearing a seatbelt, the stopping force and whiplash could damage your jaw.

TMJ injuries can occur after car accidents. For those who suffer from TMJ or TMD, it can be life-changing. Though many people in the U.S. have some form of TMJ (nearly 10% of the population)1 for those who are suddenly stricken with the disorder as a result of a car accident, it can feel frustrating to have to deal with a lifelong disability because of the negligence of another driver.

How Can A Car Accident Cause Jaw Pain?

jaw pain xray with jaw highlighted in red

Many just don’t believe it, how can a car accident cause jaw pain? We’ve written extensively on what can cause jaw pain after a car accident but the most common cause of jaw pain after a car accident is whiplash.2

Immediately following the impact of a car accident, the occupants of the vehicle or thrown about within that vehicle. The consequences of the body being pushed and pulled in opposed directions can be hard on the body, to say the least. If the jaw is not affected directly, some people find that they have applied pressure in the form of biting down because of the car accident and may have indirectly caused a jaw injury because of a car accident.

So, can a car accident cause jaw pain, most definitely. The reason why jaw injuries are related to car accidents, well there are so many and it can and does depend on each individual case.

How Common Is Jaw Pain After a Car Accident?

Jaw injuries are common after car accidents, more common than you may think. Chronic jaw pain is one of the long-term effects of car accidents. People who suffer from jaw pain will experience headaches, earaches, and discomfort in the neck, face, jaw, and shoulder.

While jaw pain is considered a common condition caused by a car accident, it is something that needs to be treated seriously to avoid additional long-term issues. According to a study performed in 2007, 1 out of 3 people engaged in car accidents are prone to developing long-term jaw pain, the Journal of American Dental Association said.3

What Are The Possible Causes Of Long-Term Jaw Pain After A Car Accident?

TMJ: If, after the car accident, you begin to notice that you have jaw pain, difficulty chewing, and you hear a clicking sound when you chew, you may have developed TMJ as a result of the car accident.

Bruised Jaw: If after a car accident, you have difficulty speaking, inability to close your mouth, a protruding or misaligned jaw, then your jaw is likely bruises and swollen. Speak with a dentist or medical professional as soon as possible.

Dislocated jaw: After a car accident, if you have any problems chewing, cannot open or close the mouth widely, trouble talking, pain on the side of the face which worsens when you try to open or close your mouth, you may have dislocated your jaw.

Fractured Jaw: After a car accident, if you begin experiencing a persistent ringing in your ears, dizziness, trouble talking, biting, chewing, or opening the mouth, chances are you may have a broken jaw. The pain will be almost unbearable and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

If and when you notice any of these symptoms like inability to open the mouth widely or pain experienced when opening the mouth, difficulty chewing, trouble biting, jaw lock, back and neck pain, muscle spasms in the face, swelling along the side/s of the face, grating noises in the jaw, and pain when speaking after a car accident (some may encounter these signs months after the accident) it is best to see your doctor.

If you seem to be experiencing some of the symptoms of long-term jaw pain after being involved in a car accident, you must see an ear, nose, and throat specialist for physical examinations and a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis. You can also see a dentist that specializes in jaw injuries and TMJ treatments.

If you are unsure, speak with a personal injury attorney who may be able to advise you further.


  1. Prevalence of TMJD and its Signs and Symptoms
  2. TMJ Injuries After A Car Accident

About the Author

Michael Steinger
Michael Steinger

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MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.