Scroll Top

Why Does My Jaw Hurt After Crying

Why Does My Jaw Hurt After Crying?

Crying is an emotional response that serves as a natural outlet for a range of feelings, from sadness and grief to joy and relief. While crying is an essential part of human experience, it can sometimes lead to physical discomfort. One common complaint is jaw pain following an episode of intense crying. Understanding the connection between emotional stress, crying, and jaw pain can help in managing this discomfort. In this blog, we will explore the reasons why your jaw might hurt after crying and what you can do to alleviate this pain. Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, a renowned TMJ specialist, provides insights into this phenomenon and offers practical solutions.

The Physiology of Crying

Crying involves a complex interaction of muscles, glands, and nerves. When we cry, our facial muscles, including those around the jaw, are actively engaged. The act of sobbing can lead to repetitive muscle contractions and tension, which might result in discomfort or pain in the jaw area.

Emotional Stress and Jaw Pain

Emotional stress is a significant factor that can contribute to jaw pain. Stress and anxiety often manifest physically, and one of the most common physical reactions to stress is clenching or grinding the teeth, a condition known as bruxism. Even if you are not aware of it, emotional distress can cause you to clench your jaw muscles tightly during crying, leading to soreness and pain.

TMJ Disorders and Crying

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jawbone to your skull and allows you to move your jaw up and down and side to side. TMJ disorders (TMD) can cause pain in the jaw joint and muscles controlling jaw movement. People with TMD may experience increased jaw pain after crying due to the added stress and muscle tension.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw
  • Pain in one or both temporomandibular joints
  • Aching pain in and around the ear
  • Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
  • Aching facial pain
  • Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close the mouth

If you frequently experience these symptoms, it might be time to consult a TMJ specialist like Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari for a thorough evaluation and appropriate TMJ treatment.

The Connection Between Crying and TMJ Pain

  1. Muscle Tension and Fatigue: Intense crying can cause muscle tension and fatigue in the jaw muscles. This tension can exacerbate any underlying TMJ issues or even trigger new episodes of jaw pain.
  2. Teeth Clenching: During emotional stress, individuals often clench their teeth subconsciously. This habit puts additional pressure on the TMJ, leading to pain and discomfort.
  3. Inflammation: Crying can also lead to inflammation in the facial muscles, including those around the jaw. This inflammation can irritate the TMJ and surrounding muscles, causing pain.
  4. Sinus Pressure: Crying can increase sinus pressure, which may indirectly affect the jaw and exacerbate TMJ symptoms. The interconnectedness of facial structures means that inflammation and pressure in one area can influence another.

Managing Jaw Pain After Crying

While it might be challenging to control your emotional responses, there are several strategies you can employ to manage and reduce jaw pain after crying.

1. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Engaging in relaxation techniques can help reduce overall stress and muscle tension. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can be beneficial.

2. Apply Heat or Cold

Applying a warm compress to the jaw can help relax the muscles and reduce pain. Alternatively, a cold pack can help reduce inflammation and numb the pain. Use whichever method feels most comfortable and effective for you.

3. Gentle Jaw Exercises

Performing gentle jaw exercises can help stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles, reducing tension and pain. Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari recommends exercises such as opening and closing the mouth slowly and side-to-side jaw movements.

4. Maintain Good Posture

Poor posture, especially when sitting for long periods, can contribute to jaw tension. Ensure you maintain good posture by keeping your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and avoiding forward head posture.

5. Avoid Hard and Chewy Foods

After an episode of crying, your jaw muscles might be fatigued and sensitive. Avoid hard, chewy, or sticky foods that require excessive jaw movement. Opt for softer foods that are easier to chew.

6. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can exacerbate muscle cramps and tension. Ensure you drink plenty of water to keep your body and muscles well-hydrated.

Seeking Professional Help

If you find that jaw pain after crying is a persistent issue, it may be indicative of an underlying TMJ disorder. Consulting with a TMJ specialist like Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari can provide you with a comprehensive evaluation and customized treatment plan.

TMJ Treatment Options

  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can help manage TMJ pain. In some cases, muscle relaxants or prescription medications might be necessary.
  • Therapies: Physical therapy, including exercises and manual therapy, can be highly effective in managing TMJ pain. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also help address the emotional aspects of TMJ disorders.
  • Dental Appliances: Custom-made dental splints or mouthguards can help reduce teeth grinding and clenching, alleviating pressure on the TMJ.
  • Injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections or Botox injections might be recommended to reduce inflammation and muscle tension.
  • Surgery: While rarely needed, surgical options are available for severe cases of TMJ disorders that do not respond to other treatments.


Jaw pain after crying can be a distressing experience, but understanding the connection between emotional stress, crying, and TMJ pain can help you manage and reduce this discomfort. By employing relaxation techniques, practicing good jaw hygiene, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can alleviate jaw pain and improve your overall well-being. Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, a TMJ specialist, emphasizes the importance of addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of TMJ disorders to achieve optimal health and comfort. If you experience persistent jaw pain, do not hesitate to reach out to a TMJ specialist for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan.

About Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari

Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari is a board-certified TMJ and Oral Facial Pain specialist. He focuses his practice on TMJ disorders, oral pain, facial pain and associated headaches. He treats patients in New York City. His practice is conveniently located in midtown Manhattan three blocks from Grand Central Terminal and Bryant Park.

  • Assistant Clinical Professor, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
  • Treasurer and Committee Chair, NYU Dentistry Alumni Association
  • Diplomate, American Board of Orofacial Pain
  • Fellow, American Academy of Orofacial Pain
  • Chair of Membership Committee, American Academy of Orofacial Pain

Dr. Nojan shares his in-depth knowledge of the TMJ, oral and facial pain as Assistant Clinical Professor at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. He taught for 5 years at Yale-New Haven Hospital as a clinical attending and course director. He is one of very few  diplomates of the American Board of Orofacial Pain  and a Fellow of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain.

As an expert in the field, he has been invited to lecture at New York University, New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, New York State Dental Association, Woodhull Hospital, Lincoln Medical Center, and numerous dental societies and conferences (including Greenwich and Stamford Dental Societies, New Haven Dental Association, Connecticut Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, New England Dental Society Annual Meeting).

What are treatment options offered by Dr. Nojan?

Dr. Nojan offers the best and advanced treatment options available for TMJ, facial pain, oral pain and headaches. Treatments offered by Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari are personalized to you when looking to know more about inflammation of the jaw, and may include:

  • Oral appliance therapy (custom mouthguards, nightguards, splints)
  • Therapeutic injections
  • Trigger point injections for muscle pain
  • Nerve blocks
  • Steroid injections for TMJ joint and tendons
  • Botox for TMJ, nerve pain, jaw pain and headaches
  • Therapeutic ointments and medication for oral, facial and TMJ pain

Overview of Treatments for TMJ, Facial Pain and Oral Pain

Dr. Nojan offers the most advanced and evidence-based treatment options for TMJ, facial pain, oral pain and related headaches.

“Don’t leave TMJ and orofacial pain treatments to guesswork.”

Treatments will always be personalized to you, your condition and your treatment approach preferences. We understand that some patients do not like taking medications, while others are afraid of needles, or have life-styles that prevent them from wearing a bite guard. Learn more about what happens at your first visit with Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, DDS, FAAOP. For that reasons, we offer the full range of treatment options and learning about inflammation of the jaw while also including:

TMJ Treatment options vary depending on the individual suffering from TMJ and the specifics of their condition. Since TMJ/TMD can affect the musculature, tendons, bones and joint of the jaw, a thorough examination and diagnosis is paramount prior to initiating any treatment. Treatments include therapeutic injections of muscles and the joints, custom fabricated orthotics (also called splints, mouth guards, nightguards or occlusal guards), medications, creams, botox©, jaw stretching exercises, and physical therapy.

TMJ therapies should never include grinding down of otherwise healthy teeth. It is ill-advised to suggest to a patient that grinding of their otherwise healthy natural teeth is related to the TMJ pain they are perceiving. This treatment philosophy of “correcting the bite”, by either grinding down teeth (occlusal adjustments), restoring teeth with crowns, or moving teeth with braces or invisalign©, has been debunked in the dental and scientific literature.

What to expect at your first visit to our office

At your first visit to our office, Dr. Bakhtiari and his team will thoroughly examine your jaw, face, TMJ, bite and mouth. He will determine the source and cause of your discomfort, and devise a customized treatment solution that will work for you to help with inflammation of the jaw.

The initial consultation includes:

  • Review of your medical history
  • Detailed evaluation of your pain, discomfort and/or other symptoms
  • Cranial nerve screening
  • Muscle palpation of the muscles of your jaw, head and neck
  • TMJ evaluation: evaluating the health of your jaw joints including their range of motion, tenderness and any clicking/popping sounds
  • Additional imaging if necessary: X-rays, panoramic, CT scans, MRIs
  • Additional testing as needed: diagnostic topical anesthetics, muscle and nerve blocks, blood tests

Book Your Appointment Today with Dr. Nojan!