How Do You Relax Your Jaw Muscles?
Clenching our jaws or grinding our teeth is a very common stress response that can be momentary or completely unconscious and continue while we sleep when facing a stressful period in our lives. This results in ongoing tension in the jaw muscles, which can be quite uncomfortable when left unmanaged. Visit Koala® Center For Sleep & TMJ Disorders for a diagnosis. For more information contact us or book an appointment online. We have convenient locations across the U.S. in Bloomington IL, Peoria/Dunlap IL, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX, and Wausau WI.
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To help relax your jaw muscles when suffering from tension around the temporomandibular joint and surrounding area, there are some stretches you can do that will be recommended by a specialist to doctor to help provide relief for that tension. One easy relaxation exercise for your jaw is to touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth just behind the top teeth, allowing your bottom and top teeth to come apart a bit (as though you’re opening your mouth) while you relax the surrounding muscles in your jaw. You can do this exercise any time without anyone really noticing so it is a great quick method to help relieve some tension that may be building up in the area. Applying a warm compress can also help to relax the tense muscles, and in severe cases, taking muscle relaxant medication may also be recommended by a specialist to doctor in order to reduce pain levels. You can also try to massage the area to relax the tight muscles but this will likely only provide temporary relief.
Tension of the jaw muscles can be indicative of a variety of conditions or causes, including physiological and psychological factors. Jaw tension can be a sign of increased levels of anxiety or stress, often resulting in people frequently clenching or grinding their teeth without even realizing. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are also a fairly common cause of tension localized in the jaw muscles and can occur also due to clenching or grinding of the teeth, trauma done to the jaw or TMJ, or inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases or infections. Arthritis is another common cause for tightened jaw muscles, along with other joint-related medical conditions.
Minor jaw tension can sometimes go away on its own, but most cases will require either a conscious effort on the part of the patient or actual treatment from a specialist to doctor before any relief is experienced. Most symptoms of TMJ will go away within two weeks of patients sufficiently resting the jaw and making the conscious effort to stop clenching and grinding of the teeth. However, it is important for those who have a diagnosed condition that is causing the jaw tension and pain to understand the cause of the tension, as well as any relevant preventative measures that should be taken in order for the relief to be sustainable. TMJ disorders can be effectively managed through addressing harmful habits or lifestyle choices that are contributing to the symptoms, but patients will likely need to implement these lifestyle changes and the elimination of of bad habits in order to keep the jaw tension away long-term, with the understanding that there are some factors that may cause the tension to worsen if they are unable to be managed (such as stressful life events or arthritic flare-ups). So, treatment of jaw tension will likely end up being a long-term treatment and will take a commitment from the patient to make the jaw tension go away and stay away.
The most relaxing position for the jaw is when it is slightly open and the tongue is placed on the roof of the mouth, and this position is a great way to quickly provide jaw tension relief while forcing the patient to consciously think about not clenching or grinding their teeth. Mouthguards or other oral appliances that are typically recommended for patients suffering from jaw tension will help to maintain that bit of distance between the top and bottom jaw, holding that relaxing position while the patient sleeps. This position will prevent the teeth from unconsciously clenching and grinding while the patient is asleep and can be more easily maintained when the patient is sleeping on their back, allowing them to wake up free from jaw tension and pain and feeling much more rested.