It’s a little known fact that you can get an ache the feels just like a sore tooth – but is actually caused by myofascial trigger points. Some unfortunate people have even had extensive dental work done before the true cause of their sore teeth was discovered.

There are several muscles which cause trigger point tooth pain. The two commonest ones are:

  • Temporalis
  • Masseter

The temporalis is  a broad flat muscle used in chewing. It’s located on the side of your head above your ear. There are four main trigger points in this muscle, and three of them refer pain into your teeth.

The pattern of referral is quite precisely targeted. The temporalis can actually refer pain into individual teeth. This makes it very confusing for both patients and dentists. When there’s nothing wrong with the tooth, you can still get an ache that feels exactly like toothache.

Unless you know about the phenomena of mouth trigger points, it can be very hard to find the true cause of this strange discomfort.

The masseter is a strong muscle also used for chewing. It is located in the jaw and refers pain more generally into the jaw. When you clench your teeth together, you can feel this muscle jump out. However, this more diffuse pain can also be confused with toothache and can be very uncomfortable.

Both these muscles can be treated using ischemic pressure, myofascial release and trigger point therapy. It’s important to check out first that these is nothing wrong with the sore tooth. If the tooth checks out fine, then definitely examine these muscles to see if you can find trigger points.

Habits that can Set of Mouth Trigger Points

Overworking the masster and temporalis can set of myofascial triggers. There is a condition called bruxism, which describes people who grind or clench their teeth a lot. This can happen while you’re awake – as a habit, or even while you are asleep.

This constant working of your chewing muscles can lead to stressed muscles, tension and finally active triggers. As with all habits, once you are aware of them, you can begin to break the habit.

If you are holding your jaw in tense way throughout the day, this can also set of muscle spasms in your jaw muscles. The key here is learning to relax your jaw and stretch out the muscles.

Trigger point tooth pain is a puzzling phenomenon, but like all such mysteries once you know the true cause, you can do something to treat it.


Trigger point charts are key in locating muscle aches caused by trigger points. Whether the pain is in your shoulder, leg, arm, neck or back, the most important thing is to accurately find which muscle is causing the discomfort.

For this, anatomical charts for trigger points can come in useful. These charts contain diagrams pinpointing two important things – the location of the myofascial triggers and where they cause pain.

This is crucial because these areas of spasmed muscle can often cause pain far away from their actual location. This is caused referred pain, and happens in a particular pattern for each point. These referral patterns have been mapped out on charts over hundreds of studies, and remain constant.

This means you can get an ache in your hand caused by trigger points in your forearm. Pain in your shoulder can be caused by muscles in your back, headaches can be caused by your neck muscles, and a sore shoulder can come from chest muscles..

When you look at an charts or  illustrations of trigger points in the leg & buttock, you can sometimes see a pain referral path that runs right down your leg. (For instance, from the gluteus minimus  muscle.)

Trigger points can occur in virtually any muscle in your body. In fact, they often are found in groups. For instance, tension in your shoulders can set of muscles spasms in several muscles. You can get groups of secondary triggers that are activated by the primary trigger point, but they all need to be released for the underlying tension to dissolve.

This is why a whole body trigger points chart is so necessary. When you can see all the muscles that can refer pain to a single location, you’re able to track down all the points that could be causing your muscles to spasm and have triggers. Then you can methodically switch off each tight band, and dissolve the tension.

For simple trigger point charts that you can access free, simply go to triggerpointmaps.com – there are over 47 free anatomical charts for trigger points.

Treating trigger points is a fascinating process. Firstly, you need to know how to locate the triggers. This can sometimes be difficult, as triggers can refer pain.

This means that the pain you feel may be caused by a trigger point somewhere else in your body. To successfully locate trigger points, you need to understand the pain pathways that trigger points and nerves typically refer down.

The most in depth resource for this is Janet Travell and David Simon’s work: Myofascial Pain And Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Janet Travell was the physician to President Kennedy, and contributed hugely to the study and formalised knowledge of trigger points.

Every muscle in the body is capable of having triggers, and they all have typical pain patterns. Some triggers refer pain quite locally, while others, for example those in your shoulder, can refer pain right down to your fingers.