The saying is usually “Pain in the neck, back, or butt.” But you never hear pain in the jaw. Unless you’re a dentist. Jaw pain can be debilitating. It can cause headaches or migraines, neck pain, ear pain, and make you not want to chew gum. It can make it difficult to focus on anything other than your jaw.
The jaw joint is the only hinge joint in the body that can also move side to side. It is also the only hinge joint that has joints on both sides of the body, necessitating the same motion to be performed on both sides at the same time with the same force. This construction makes the jaw a rather delicate construction and easy to damage.
If you suffer, or have suffered, from jaw pain, you might have talked to a dentist about it, but probably haven’t received much treatment. The issue with TMJ or TMD pain is that treatment still varies drastically from person to person. We have listed on our website some of the symptoms of TMJ.
The cause of these issues varies widely, and in some cases is not known. Causes can range from trauma to repetitive motions to a crown that doesn’t fit right.
Most health care providers, orthodontists, dentists, and such, will suggest every other option prior to surgery, as there have been no long term clinical trials to study the safety and effectiveness of surgical treatments. Because of this, not even exhausting all other options prior to surgery means that the doctor will suggest surgery. Surgery can be very unsafe and damage your ability to eat and talk the rest of your life.
There are some easy ways to deal with pain in your jaw, and sometimes symptoms will subside easily.
- Exercise several times a week
- Don’t hold the phone between shoulder and ear
- Don’t rest chin on your hand
- Avoid chewing sticky, hard, crunchy, or chewy foods
- Relax facial muscles
- Use hand to support chin during yawning
- Receive massage and self massage
Relieving the tension in the jaw muscles can help to prevent pain, decrease clicking or locking, and help with headaches and earaches. While massage is among the least invasive treatments, it can be slightly uncomfortable. There are muscles that are inside the mouth that should be worked as well as on the jaw floor. Consistency is key for any goal, especially with these thin, more delicate facial muscles.
Receiving massage shortly after a dental appointment of any kind can help reduce the amount of pain or stiffness that might be caused by the treatment. Receiving massage after any kind of head trauma is also important, as most head trauma results in some amount of jaw dysfunction because of the fragile construction of the jaw joint.