How to Relieve Jaw Tension by Victoria Salomon, our blogs guest author this week!
Different types of Jaw Pain
The jaw may have pain and discomfort in many places on the face and neck. Depending on what pain you experience a tight jaw may vary from painless to severe and achy. This feeling may worsen when eating and yawning. The precise location of the suffering also differs. A tight jaw can cause pain on one or both sides of your face.
Why do I have tight jaw muscles?
Tightness in the jaw is caused by stress, anxiety, inflammation or damage. Excessively chewed or overexerted muscles can cause swollen muscles or swollen bones, painful muscle contractions can then impact the jaw joint. The surrounding muscles control movement like sneezing, chewing andyawning.
Temporomandibular Joint Misalignment
You have this joint on either side of your jaw. It is just in front of your ears. The TMJ joints work like sliding hinges, connecting your jawbone to your skull.
The joints enable you to open and close your mouth. You may experience TMJ symptoms, like local muscle disorders, if something has caused these joints to move out of position, it can result in various levels of pain.
Emotional or Physical Tension in your Body
A painful jaw often develops when you are feeling a lot of stress or anxiety due to unconsciously clenching your jaw without realizing it. People usually don't know they're doing this until they start to feel pain.
Emotional Tension can cause jaw pain because its tension is often expressed through the jaw muscles; clenching your teeth, tension headaches, and neck pain are all common symptoms of unresolved emotional stress.
Interestingly, it is the inability to express yourself, that often creates the tension, 'keep your mouth shut' or 'put a zip on it' are sayings that refer to situations where you literally keep your emotional mind and body suppressed.
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
It's not always easy to know that you're grinding your teeth, but one sign that you might be doing this is if you experience muscle tightness in your upper or lower jaw. This pain can sometimes be connected with other physical pain or tension elsewhere in your body.
Teeth grinding, can damage your upper and lower teeth, as well as create TMJ pain in your jaw joints.
Check it's not something else!
Make sure you also check with your dentist that it is not some potentially fatal bacterial infection. It is important to check this out if the pain feels excruciating and you begin go get a high temperature.
Diagnosing jaw pain
If your jaw is too tight to chew or talk, it may be time for an exam to determine what is causing the problem.
It is possible to diagnose tight jaw muscles through an oral or dental examination performed by a dentist. In some instances, a TMJ issue may require an MRI or CT scan for the diagnosis.
How to loosen tight jaw muscles?
Jaw Joint stretches
Stretch your jaw by doing jaw joint stretches, opening your jaw as wide as possible, and holding for a few seconds. Repeat five times.
You can do this kind of jaw joint stretch regularly to release facial muscles. Jaw Exercises will also help release muscle tension in the shoulder and neck muscles.
Different movements of the Jaw
The jaw is designed to open and shut, shift from side to side, and slide backward and forwards (retraction and protraction).So it is important to mobilize your jaw in all these directions.
Clench and release your jaw muscles ten times.
Initially with Temporomandibular disorders tightening and releasing your jaw, without opening your mouth may be easier. This will still activate the muscles around your temporomandibular joints.
It is just important that you consciously release the tightness in the jaw, after tightening the facial muscles in this area.
The Smile Stretch
Believe it or not, actually creating a big smile with your face, will help to release your jaw!
Gently rubbing your temporal bone or the back of your neck can release muscles. This gentle pressure can increase blood flow and help to relieve jaw tightness and tension in the surrounding tissues in your head and neck, which may indirectly loosen your jaw muscles.
You can use your finger knuckles to compress the area between your lower jaw and upper front teeth to relieve TMJ tightness.
The relationship between your jaw and the rest of your body could be out of alignment, especially if you have other pain in your body, it can be helpful to do someBiomechanical Assessment(Postural Alignment) and to look at the structure and positioning of your whole body.
Using a Mouth Guard
Mouthguards can be moulded by your dentist. Dental and Craniofacial Research shows that they act as a barrier between your upper and lower jaw, and relieve pressure from teeth grinding.
Using the mouth guard regularly at night when you sleep helps tight jaw muscles to release, as your teeth can not grind and the surrounding muscles are unable to clench.
So the mouth guards relieve excessive chewing and grinding; easing pressure from surrounding muscles.
Tight teeth muscles may inhibit the basic routine of daily activities including speaking and eating foods.
The condition of contracted jaw joints may be very painful. Often the symptoms can be treated by medical or physical therapy treatments.
Tight teeth may be the result of several different health issues including a problem with your temporomandibular joint, or habits, including those mentioned earlier.
A tight jaw can cause pain or anxiety; it can cause teeth grinding, or underlying medical problems like arthritis.
Treatment for a tight jaw consists of massage, stretching, medication and massage techniques. A dental guard is also useful in stopping teeth grinding.
How to Relieve Jaw Tension was authored by Victoria Salomon. Victoria specialises in helping with emotional and physical pain with 'The Ixchel System' which shows you how to assess and realign your own muscular, skeletal and nervous system. By doing this you will realign and rebalance your emotional and physical connection.
Find out more about Victoria Salomon and The Ixchel System on her website ixcheltherapies.co.uk
Victoria has very kindly allowed Georganics blog readers free access to her jaw tension practice by enrolling in the Jaw Pain Relief Kit here and her 10 minute fix for physical or emotional stress anywhere in the body, here.