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Can Diabetes Cause Jaw Pain?

After getting four new crowns and a custom night guard for teeth grinding and TMJ, my dentist says my TMJ is diabetes related. Neither the night guard nor the crowns have relieved my jaw tightness and pain. How could diabetes be the problem? – Thank you. Nigel from Indianapolis


Thank you for your question. Dr. Lim would need to review your dental history, perform an exam, and take x-rays to determine if underlying issues with your teeth, bite, or jaw alignment is causing the problems. We will explain whether diabetes may be related to TMJ.

Are Diabetes and Jaw Pain Related?

About half of people with type 2 diabetes and 20 percent with type 1 diabetes develop diabetic neuropathy. Still, only .05% of them develop craniofacial neuropathy. The condition is rare, and a skilled dentist would rule out other causes of jaw pain before determining whether diabetes is causing your TMJ symptoms.

TMJ and Teeth Grinding

Diagram of the side of a skull highlighting the temporomandibular join
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

If you grind your teeth, the pressure affects your jaw muscles and can lead to TMJ disorder. A custom night guard is a simple, noninvasive treatment to address discomfort. When a night guard does not resolve the issue, a dentist may look for other causes, including:

  • Bite imbalance
  • Teeth misalignment
  • Jaw position

Teeth or Jaw Misalignment and TMJ

Braces realign your teeth and can resolve TMJ concerns related to teeth alignment. But if the jaw position is causing TMJ discomfort, you probably need orthodontic treatment to correct your jaw’s position. We suggest getting a second opinion and exam to determine whether your teeth, arch, or jaw are causing your discomfort. The second-opinion dentist will need to see your x-rays and 3-D images of your oral anatomy or order the tests for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Review a few dentists’ credentials before choosing one for a second opinion.

Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso, Oklahoma dentist, sponsors this post.