Jaw Dropping Tips to Relieve Pain ... jaw pain that is!

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Posted Jul 20th, 2018

Jaw Dropping Tips to Relieve Pain ... jaw pain that is!

TMJ = Temporomandibular Joint

TMD = Temporomandibular Dysfunction

What is the problem?  

  • In essence, the problem is often with the Articular Disc. The disc is between the two bones of the jaw (ball & socket).  When opening/closing this disc shifts from its original place and emits a popping or clicking sound. In some cases the disc’s movement is improper due to muscle imbalances.

What is locked jaw?

  • Locked jaw is a term used to describe when you are feeling “stuck”, with your jaw locked in a position, such as in the ‘open’ position. This is often due to times where you’re obligated to keep your mouth open for a long period of time, such as after a visit to the dentist.  The muscles can spasm and limit movement.

Some symptoms people have when faced with TMJ dysfunction include;

  • Clicking
  • Popping
  • Locking
  • Headaches
  • Clenching or grinding teeth when concentrating or sleeping. Note, there are predispositions to those who’ve had orthodontic applications, trauma, sport injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and stress.

What are other problems may exist with the jaw?

  • Poor lower jaw movement/tracking when opening/closing. Ever watched yourself in the mirror when you open your mouth wide?  Try it! ….. (imaginary line of middle of top row of teeth, and middle of the lower row of teeth.  Do they stay stacked and in line?)
    • What may happen?

      • In line … good!


      • “Deflect”
        • Lower jaw drifts to one side as opening, and settles back in line by the time you open wide.                                        
          (Starts & endsright). 
      • “Deviate”
        • Lower jaw drifts to one side as opening, and stays shifted at full opening.                                                                  
          (Starts right, ends wrong).

Why does my physiotherapist assess and treat my neck? 

  • The jaw is frequently unacknowledged as a source of pain, coming from the head, neck, face, or vocal conditions or injuries. Everything is interconnected! (remember that childhood song … ‘the leg bone’s connected to the ankle bone’) So we must never ignore the neck and posture influences on jaw function and pain.

What treatments can physiotherapists offer for jaw pain/troubles?

  • Alongside education and exercises, some physiotherapists’ may suggest acupuncture, ultrasound, and manual therapy techniques to help re-align jaw movements to reduce clicking/locking.  No matter what a therapist does during an in-clinic session, there are many elements to your self-care, including:
    • Postural corrections & exercises.
    • Jaw movement pattern exercises to do at home.
    • Stress management.
    • Do’s and Don’ts list.

What can massage therapists do for jaw pain?

  • Registered Massage Therapists (RMT) will focus their assessment and massage to the neck, head, shoulders, face and jaw. By loosening up the tension in those areas, it can help improve your jaw’s movement/tracking; alleviate headaches; reduce wear on your teeth; and many more benefits.
  • The jaw muscle that a massage therapist will often focus on is masseter, a muscle that is one of the primary muscles for chewing. This muscle is unfortunately an area that holds many trigger points and so massage is key to loosening it up.

Tips to help treat your jaw pain:

  • Wear a night guard, if you are a grinder. 
  • Relax your jaw and muscles: “Lips closed and teeth apart”.
  • Sit up tall ... Your posture and neck influence the jaw!
  • Don’t chew gum.
  • Eat your food on both sides of your mouth.
  • Cut food up, rather than taking bites of large items (e.g. apple, burger, etc.).
  • Manage your stress.
  • Protect your yawns! …Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and consider placing your finger on your lower jaw to prevent opening too far.





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