If you are like most people, you probably don’t think about your jaw too much — until something goes wrong with the way it functions. Having a tight jaw can cause mild to moderate pain all throughout your neck and head. Of course, identifying a solution for this uncomfortable problem requires identifying the cause. Keep reading to learn more about what we attribute jaw pain to as well as some tips for how to improve it.
Top Causes of a Tight Jaw
You will need to see a professional for a proper diagnosis of your jaw pain. Some of the most common causes include:
- TMJ/TMD: Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is the misalignment of the upper and lower jaws. When they do not fit together properly, the TMJ must make a small adjustment every time it opens and closes. Over time, this can add up to a lot of extra strain on the jaw. Tightness and a clicking, popping jaw can develop.
- Teeth grinding (AKA bruxism): Nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching put a considerable amount of strain on the jaw. If you are grinding your teeth at night, you may wake up with sensitive teeth, and jaw tightness may be especially bad in the morning. Teeth grinding can also cause the tooth enamel to become weak or worn down.
- Stress: People who are frequently stressed out or anxious are more likely to clench their jaw throughout the day and at night while they sleep. This can cause the jaw muscle to tighten up and often results in discomfort.
- Chewing gum: People who frequently chew gum (or any other substance) are more likely to have a tight-feeling or uncomfortable jaw.
How to Find Relief for Jaw Pain
In many cases, a dentist or Houston oral surgeon can help you overcome pain that originates in your jaw. As an expert in the mouth and all the surrounding oral structures, there is perhaps no one better-qualified to offer this type of treatment.
Some of the effective therapies or tricks for jaw tightness or pain include:
- TMJ therapy: A mouth guard (splint) can relieve pain that originates in the joint. This works by realigning the TMJ to reduce pressure and help the joint to function properly once again.
- Mouth guard for bruxism: Protecting your teeth from the trauma of grinding and clenching may also help to alleviate jaw tightness.
- Oral surgery: For severe jaw tightness or pain, your oral surgeons in Houston may recommend a procedure to realign the jaw joint.
- Exercises for jaw pain: You may want to try out certain manual stretches and exercises that can help strengthen the jaw to relieve tightness and discomfort. These include:
- Jaw opening and closing: Place your two fingers on the bottom teeth and slowly close your mouth from a wider opening position. When opening, place the fingers on the base of the chin. Repeat 10-12 times.
- Facial stretch: Smile as wide as you can and, at the widest point, open the mouth and inhale. Exhale while releasing the smile and repeat as many times as needed (up to 10) to loosen up the facial muscles and tissue.
These are some possible solutions, but you should visit a professional for the precise treatment to relieve your jaw tightness.
Meet the Practice
Drs. Steve Koo and Tom Weil of Piney Point OMS offer excellence in a wide range of surgeries and treatments for patients in and around Houston. Oral surgeons can help diagnose and treat jaw tightness and discomfort. If you are suffering from this chronic issue, you are invited to contact Piney Point OMS at (713) 783-5560.