Five ways to help jaw pain

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jaw bone to your skull and is a common area of dysfunction. Your right and left TMJ must work together, rolling and sliding as you move your jaw bone to perform basic functions like talking and chewing. Jaw tension and pain are common problems, especially when stress causes us to clench our teeth or when we spend a long time in forward head posture. Here is how to help:

1. Deep breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing with expansion of your rib cage is a powerful stress reliever and can help with muscle tension and teeth clenching. Try box breathing— inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4. Try to let the muscles in your face soften as you practice this breathing technique.

2. Address forward head posture

Forward head posture increases tension in the soft tissues at the front of your neck and causes your jaw bone to be pulled downward. This changes the alignment of the TMJ and causes increased tone in the muscles that close your jaw. We can’t always avoid long hours in front of a computer screen but try to ‘interrupt’ prolonged forward head posture by changing positions and taking movement breaks regularly. Try doing gentle head nods and chin tucks every so often, and while you do these exercises allow your teeth to remain slightly apart with your tongue resting on the roof of your mouth.

3. Scapular and thoracic mobility

Exercises for scapular and thoracic mobility help improve your breathing and your head and neck alignment. Try doing some gentle thoracic rotation and arm arcs as part of your movement breaks.

4. Warm or cold compresses over your TMJ

Try placing a hot pack or ice pack over your jaw for 10 minutes at a time. This can provide some temporary relief and help relax your jaw muscles.

5. Self-massage for the muscles that close your jaw

Gentle massage can help decrease tone in the muscles that close your jaw. Masseter is located between your cheekbone and the angle of your jaw. Temporalis is a broad muscle that fans out across the side of your head starting from your temples. Try using your fingertips or a small ball to gently press into sore spots in these muscles. This technique can help with jaw tension as well as tension headaches.

Learn how the jaw works, what can go wrong and self-care techniques.

Register today for our new online course, Self-Care Strategies for Jaw Pain
• Explore the unique anatomy and mechanics of the TMJ
• Gain an understanding of the interrelationship of TMJ dysfunction, head/neck posture, and jaw, neck, and head pain
• Learn self-care strategies to help with jaw pain, clenching and clicking
• Practice exercises to optimize TMJ movement and function

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Date/time: Fri, Jun 12, 2020, 1:30–3:30pm EST
Location: Live streaming via Zoom
Presenter: Elizabeth Crawford, BPHE., MA, MScPT, Registered Physiotherapist, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Comprehensive Teacher, Teacher Trainer
Tuition: $95+tax

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