Jaw pain is pretty common. More than 15% of Americans can suffer from jaw pain or TMD (Temporal mandibular disorders). Some common symptoms are clicking or popping of your jaw joint, pain and tenderness along your jaw, mouth or neck when talking or opening our mouth and problems opening or closing your mouth. Did you know that chiropractic and massage along with your dentist could help decrease jaw pain caused by the joint. Before we get to some helpful tips, it may be helpful to understand what the jaw joint is and what can cause pain in the jaw.
The medical name for the jaw joint is the temporal mandibular joint or TMJ. This is where your jaw bone meets your skull, right in front of your ears. It is a hinge type of joint that allows someone to talk and chew, basically open your mouth. However, if you have problems with this joint, it can cause excessive clicking, locking, difficulty chewing, or pain. It is also possible to develop arthritis in this joint, like any joint. There are four primary muscles that help control your jaw, opening and closing your mouth with eating/chewing. Two of those muscles are on the outside of your jaw. They are the temporalis muscle and masseter muscle, which allows for more grinding and chewing. Tension may be in both of these muscles and that can contribute to pain in your head or upper neck. The two inner muscles, the lateral and medial pterygoid muscles, tend to be more sensitive and can play a bigger part with pain development. They are more responsible for opening and closing the mouth and are located directly behind your back teeth.
It’s not uncommon for TMJ issues to be associated and cause headaches, tooth aches, tinnitus, and other upper neck and head conditions. Causes of pain in the TMJ vary but it can be an injury like whiplash or it could be just repetitive use with stress. Stress is a big factor as well especially if there is teeth clenching or the muscles tighten up. However, there are some things that you can do to help alleviate jaw pain if you have but also to help prevent it.
Some tips for TMJ or jaw pain issues and prevention:
1. Try an ice or heat pack. Remember to use a cloth with no direct skin contact and to only do it for about 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Avoid chewy foods especially gum. Chewier foods like steak and candy like gum make the muscles of the mouth and jaw work harder and can increase pain.
3. Eat soft foods like yogurts, pudding, sliced fruits, cooked vegetables, etc. Soft foods and foods cut into smaller pieces don’t tax any aggravated muscles when you are in pain.
4. Try meditation/relaxation techniques. Have you tried yoga? Figure out a way to decrease the stress in your life since stress can be a trigger for muscle tension and pain.
5. Try a night guard especially if you grind your teeth or chatter/clench when stressed.
6. Visit a Dentist. When was the last time you went to the dentist? Dentists can sometime help identify a problem before there is a lot of pain.
7. Visit a Chiropractor. WHY? Because there is actually an adjustment that you can do for the jaw. However, with that being said, muscle is usually a big factor with TMJ issues. Stretching and muscle therapy can be taught to be able to do it at home. Good posture techniques also help decrease pain and tension.
So if you have or have had jaw or TMJ issues, do not be afraid to contact us here at Fletcher Chiropractic in Lincoln, Nebraska. Our providers have experience with these types of issues.
Please remember that this is just friendly advice and remember to see a health care professional if you do have any questions or concerns or if you are experiencing this type of pain.
photo credit: webmd.com