The TMJ, also known as the temporomandibular joint or jaw joint, serves as an articulation connecting the mandible (jaw bone) with the temporal bone, which is part of the skull or cranium. Within this joint, two discs provide cushioning, facilitating a wide range of motion. As a result of the TMJ’s capabilities, we can perform opening and closing movements of our mouth, along with deviations.
TMJ Pain Causes
Jaw pain can be attributed to two primary factors: traumatic and non-traumatic causes.
Traumatic causes involve direct injuries to the jaw, like falls or sports-related impacts. Even prolonged mouth opening during dental procedures can lead to jaw pain or TMJ disorders.
Non-traumatic causes are more common and often related to stress-induced jaw muscle contractions, such as daytime or nocturnal bruxism. Certain diets or medication side effects may also contribute to jaw discomfort.
Lifestyle tips for jaw pain and tension
- Stress: stress has a huge influence on jaw pain and tension. Increase stress levels can cause you to hold tension in the jaw or clench, contributing to muscular tension and TMJ pain
- Medications: various medications may result in increased jaw clenching or bruxism. If in doubt we encourage you to consult your Doctor or Pharmacist to discuss
- Posture: increased forward head posture and sustained postural tension can contribute to jaw tension as our muscles work to maintain tension through our mandible working against gravity
- Sleep: although not commonly known, poor sleep hygiene and sleep apnoea can contribute a lot to nocturnal bruxism and jaw clenching
TMJ and Jaw Pain Home Remedies
- Stress management: looking after your mental health and stress management is hugely important for those suffering with ongoing jaw pain and TMJ dysfunction. Have a good support network and mindfulness techniques can be a good place to start. We always recommend discussing with a mental health professional such as a psychologist or your GP for further support if required.
- Regular Exercise: maintaining a good exercise regime helps to improve posture and mood and also can help to reduce the sensitivity of your central nervous system to alleviate jaw tension and clenching.
- Breathing: ensuring deep diaphragmatic and nasal breathing can help to reduce tension through your jaw and ensure good oxygenation.
- Sleep Hygiene: improving your sleep routine and ensuring quality rest will help reduce your clenching throughout the night. If you are having ongoing challenges with non-restful sleep, we suggest consulting with your GP or a dentist.
Jaw Pain Exercises
There are several easy to perform at home exercises for TMJ pain and dysfunction that we often suggest to patients.
Teeth, tongue & breathing position
- Start with your mouth gently closed without clenching your teeth together
- From here bring your tongue onto the front, firm part of your palate. Making the ‘nnnn’ sound will assist with this
- Maintaining this position, take gentle breaths in and out through your nose
This exercise helps to keep your jaw in a relaxed posture and prevent you from clenching. We suggest practicing this a few times throughout the day for 1-2 minutes at a time. It is especially useful if you feel yourself starting to clench or tighten your jaw.
The Goldfish Exercise
- Start with your tongue on the front, firm part of your palate, similar to the first exercise
- Holding your tongue in this position, gently open your mouth as wide as you can whilst maintaining your tongue on the roof of your mouth
- Gently close your mouth and repeat, again making sure to keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth at all times
This is a great exercise to help improve the range of motion of your jaw and relax tight outer jaw muscles by switching on your deep jaw stabiliser muscles.
When to seek help for tmj and jaw pain treatment
Patients often come to us unsure when to seek professional help and treatment for their jaw pain.
If you are experiencing any of the following, we suggest consulting with a professional:
- Painful clicking or locking in the jaw
- Limited range of motion and inability to open, often called a ‘lockjaw’
- Chronic tension through the jaw
- Jaw pain with associated symptoms such as headache, ear pain or symptoms or tinnitus
- Jaw pain causing pain or limitation in daily tasks such as eating or yawning
for jaw and tmj treatment, we are here to help!
Chiropractor Dr Jed has a special interest in TMJ & Jaw Pain assessment and management. As Chiropractor trained in this area, we are a first line option for patients seeking treatment for jaw concerns.
You can read more about our approach to jaw pain treatment here. Give our friendly team a call for more information about Jaw Pain Treatment Perth on (08) 6184 8835 or book your initial consultation online today!