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Headphones Hurt Jaws: 5 Reasons + How To Stop It (2022)

Headphones Hurt Jaw

It’s pretty common to feel ear discomfort from prolonged headphone usage.

But jaw pain…

That’s something rather rare.

And while it can be some sign of a more serious issue…

You need not worry because there are remedies available.

Keep reading to find out:

  • 7 effective ways to stop your headphones from hurting your jaws.
  • The best headphones brand and models to use to avoid jaw pain.
  • 5 must-know reasons why your jaws hurt when using headphones.
  • And a lot more…

Headphones hurt jaws – 5 reasons


#1: Your headphones’ ear cups are resting on your jaws

There are 3 distinct types of headphones:

  • In-ear.
  • On-ear.
  • Over-ear.

Of these 3, the over-ear headphone generally has the largest ear cups. And this type is the only one that can cause jaw pain.

“Why so?”

Well, when you’re using an over-ear and your head size is relatively small….

Sometimes the ear cups can end up resting on your jaws instead of your ears.

And when that happens…

The headphones’ clamping pressure goes to your jaws as well.

So a probable reason your jaws are hurting: 

It’s because you’re using an over-ear headphone with big ear cups that have reached your jaws. 

#2: Your headphone’s clamping force is too strong

Headphones are designed to have some clamping pressure, so they don’t easily fall off while in use. This pressure is especially strong when the headphones are new.

Moreover, the strength of this clamping force also varies per brand and model.

And when a headphone’s clamping pressure is too strong…

It can end up hurting your ear, jaws, and pretty much the entire sides of your head.

So your jaw pain may be because your device is brand new and hasn’t loosened up yet. 

Or you might be using a headphone model that was just designed to have much clamping force. 

#3: The ear pads are too thin

Another cause of jaw pain is thin or worn-out ear pads.

These pads are supposed to serve as cushions between the ear cups and your head. They’re designed to provide comfort to the sides of your head.

But some headphone variants just don’t have enough pads in them.

Moreover, with frequent usage, some ear pads also end up thinning due to the usual wear and tear.

#4: You’re using your headphones longer than recommended

Excessive usage of headphones may also cause your jaws and ears to hurt.

You might be using your headphones for several hours non-stop. And that’s not a healthy practice.

Aside from ear and jaw pain, you’re also risking permanent hearing damage.

Doctors actually recommend that headphone usage shouldn’t extend to over an hour at a time.

So you should take short breaks after every 60 minutes of listening. This is for the sake of your jaws and ears.

#5: You have a pre-existing TMJ disorder

TMJ means temporomandibular joint.

It’s a small body part that connects your jaws to your skull. 

Now, a disorder in this particular area can also cause jaw pain. 

And you can have a TMJ disorder if you’ve experienced the following:

  • Jaw injury.
  • Connective tissue disease.
  • Rheumatoid or osteoarthritis arthritis.

So that jaw pain that you’re feeling when using headphones?

It might actually be due to some pre-existing TMJ disorder that you have. So it’s important that you get it checked by a doctor as soon as possible. 


How to stop headphones from hurting your jaw


To stop headphones from hurting your jaw, wear them properly. Ensure the ear cups are leveled with your ears and not resting on your jaws. In addition, you can also stretch your headphones to decrease their clamping force.

Now, there are several easy and effective ways to prevent jaw pain from headphone usage.

And I’ll be breaking down each one of them for you.

#1: Adjust the height of your headphones

So I mentioned that having the headphone’s ear cups rest on your jaws can cause pain.

Well, the easiest fix for that is to wear your headphones properly.

That means adjusting the headband’s length, so the cups are at the level of your ears.

“What if the ear cups still touch my jaws even after the headband adjustment?”

If that’s the case, then their ear cups may simply be too big for your head size.

What you should do is replace your headphones with something that fits better.

Now, over-ear headphones vary greatly in ear cup sizes. So look for those with smaller ones.

Pro tip: It’s better to buy headphones in a physical store than online. That way, you can actually test the device if it’s a good fit.

#2: Stretch your headphones

Stretching your headphones is another simple way to keep them from hurting your jaw. And it’s also effective in stopping your headphones from hurting your ears.

This is because stretching eases the clamping pressure of your device. 

But you’d have to do it carefully. Otherwise, you may end up breaking the headphones in half.

You may refer to the steps below on the right way to stretch your headphones:

Step #1: Measure the width of your head from one tip of your ear to the other. You may use a ruler or a tape measure for this.

Step #2: Find an object that’s a bit wider than your head’s measurement. It could be a box or a stack of books.

Just ensure that the object isn’t too wide. Or else your headphones may become way too loose.

Step #3: Place the headphones on the object. And leave it there for around 7 to 10 days.

By then, your headphones should have loosened enough that your jaws should no longer hurt.

Now, if you’d also like a visual guide on how to stretch a headphone…

Check out this video below:

#3: Limit your headphone usage

I understand it’s fun listening to music or podcasts via headphones for hours.

However, as I’ve mentioned, it’s a bad practice. And it’ll eventually just lead to problems like ear and jaw pain.

So do your best to limit the amount of time you use your headphones. 

And if you must use your headphones for an extended period…

Let your ears and jaws rest for a bit after every hour of usage.

It’d also be great if you could go for a few days without using your headphones. This will give your jaws and ears time to rest and heal any nagging pain you may be feeling.

#4: Replace your headphones with something more comfortable to use

Not all over-ear headphones are created equal.

Some brands and models are just much more comfortable to wear than others.

It can be due to thicker or softer ear pads. And it may also be because the clamping pressure is just right.

So if your headphones are causing pain even after stretching them…

Then consider getting a new one.

The following are just a few of the most comfortable over-ear headphones you can buy:

All of those headphones have received rave reviews from thousands of satisfied users.

And they’re perfect not just for those who experience jaw pains with headphones…

But also for those with sensitive ears.

#5: Use on-ear instead of over-ear headphones

As an alternative to the over-ear headphones…

You should also consider using on-ear types.

The 2 are actually pretty similar. But the main difference between them is the ear cup size.

On-ear headphones have much smaller ear cups than over-ear models.

So if you’re going to use this type…

You’re guaranteed that the cups won’t touch your jaws. And therefore, you won’t experience any pain in that area.

Of course, the one drawback to on-ear headphones is they’re less comfortable in the ears. 

This is because their ear cups are pressing directly against your ears.

So if you’re going to buy this variant…

Ensure that the model you get has thick enough cushions. 

Now, if you’d like some recommendations…

Here are a few on-ear headphones that are also known for their comfort:

#6: Use in-ear headphones

Another alternative to over-ear headphones is the in-ear variant.

Now, this particular type is much more lightweight. And you won’t have to deal with clamping pressure at all. 

Your jaws certainly won’t feel any pain when you use an in-ear headphones.

The most popular models are the Apple AirPods and the Samsung Galaxy Buds.

However, you’ll also find many good in-ear types from other brands that are also more affordable. 

As examples, here are some of the best-reviewed in-ear headphones under $100:

#7: Have an ENT doctor check if you have a TMJ disorder

Have An ENT Doctor Check If You Have A TMJ Disorder

I mentioned that your jaw pain might actually be due to a TMJ disorder and not really from headphone usage.

It’s possible if you’ve had some jaw injury in the past. Or if you’re suffering from some form of arthritis.

So if you suspect you have a TMJ disorder based on your medical history…

Your best move is to consult an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor. 

When left untreated, TMJ disorder can lead to more serious health problems. Including:

  • Migraine.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Difficulty in chewing.

So get it resolved as soon as you can. Not just so you can get back to using headphones, but for the sake of your overall well-being, as well.