Several reasons can cause jaw pain. Some might stem from dental issues, while others can be due to nerve problems or muscle and joint issues. Approximately 10 million people are suffering from jaw issues in the US alone which can be linked to a locked jaw, pain or tenderness in the jaw, and pain around the ears, neck, and face. Notably, a significant fraction of these cases stems from a damaged or irritated temporomandibular joint (TMJ), causing great pain and discomfort. The kind of pain that is next to impossible to ignore and enough to convince you to look for the most effective TMJ relief.
Your TMJ connects your jaw to the skull and allows your mouth’s basic movements, including chewing, yawning, and speaking. Unfortunately, TMJ disorder interferes with your daily life, making it difficult for you to chew and speak. Sometimes even the slightest touch near the jaw becomes very painful. This is usually accompanied by pain inside and around the ear and facial pain, and some involve locking the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth.
If you’re suffering from TMJ disorder, you may experience decreased productivity and poor quality of life. Understanding the causes of your TMJ disorder can lead you to find TMJ relief that works. Experts believe that TMJ disorder can trigger teeth grinding and vice versa, meaning your teeth grinding may also result in TMJ disorder.
The Harm of Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, can lead to several problems affecting your quality of life and confidence. Here are some issues related to bruxism that might convince you to stop teeth grinding altogether:
- You develop aesthetic issues that affect your facial profile and self-esteem
- You have fractured or loosened teeth
- You have painful or swollen temporomandibular joint, and jaw and neck muscles
- You have tooth loss, exposed roots, or irritated gums
Two types of teeth grinding
Newsflash! You can engage in teeth grinding whether you are awake or asleep. The grinding action is similar, but awake and asleep bruxism is two different conditions:
Some people unconsciously clench their jaw and start grinding their teeth when feeling stressed or emotional. Feeling stressed, anxious, or angry can also trigger teeth grinding. In some cases, even concentrating can trigger this type. Awake bruxism often doesn’t need regular care or treatment. Once you start noticing this unhealthy habit, stop yourself right away. Managing your stress can also help prevent you from unconsciously teeth grinding.
This type of teeth grinding in your sleep may cause more harm because you’re unaware it is happening. If you are doing this, you also don’t realize how strongly you clench your jaw and teeth. Usually, by looking at your teeth, dentists can tell if you have signs of bruxism. You can always visit your trusted doctor to confirm and ask for recommendations to help prevent further damage from sleep bruxism. Usually, patients are encouraged to wear mouthguards during sleep to avoid severe tooth damage from sleep bruxism.
Home Remedy options to alleviate TMJ pain
TMJ disorder can sometimes be more complicated than you think. For example, stopping teeth grinding may help you reduce your jaw pain. However, you might need to explore other options to deal with your discomfort when damage has been done. Here are some home remedies that you can safely do and can potentially help you achieve TMJ relief.
Icing Your Jaw
There’s a big chance your jaw is experiencing some inflammation if you are experiencing chronic pain. Using ice to relieve inflammation is a natural way to ease any swelling. It can also help you steer clear of anti-inflammatory medicines to avoid overmedicating. If pain is less severe, always opt for natural options, as overmedicating can result in resistance to the drug, making it less effective. Just get a bag of ice and wrap it in the cloth or towel to avoid placing it right on the skin and avoid ice burns. Make sure you keep the whole process under 20 minutes.
Resting your jaw
Resting the jaw requires less talking or only moving your mouth slowly. You may also need to avoid eating foods that require too much chewing and choose to eat softer foods instead until the pain subsides. This can prompt your jaw to recover. Giving your jaw a break whenever it begins to hurt should be one of the first things you should do.
Opting for jaw exercises or massages
Patients who experience jaw pain are advised to try jaw stretches to regain motion in their jaws. These exercises can help relieve the pain, soreness, and stiffness of the jaw. Also, try massaging the jaw to alleviate the stress and excess tension in the area.
Stress is a big contributor to several health issues, TMJ pain included. Sometimes it tends to worsen existing symptoms making it a lot more painful. It also triggers muscle tension and soreness. People who are usually stressed may notice incidents involving the neck, shoulders, and jaw pain. They may also be grinding their teeth unconsciously. You can explore several ways to manage your stress and find the one that is both effective and sustainable. It will always come in handy.
Reduce Caffeine intake
Consuming too much caffeine may cause muscle tension and even jaw pains. In addition, caffeine may worsen the jaw pain you’re already experiencing. Limit caffeine intake and drink more water to help reduce muscle tension and soreness.
Maintain Good Posture
Unknown to many, poor posture can lead to upper cervical misalignments, which may result in TMJ pains. This is because your skull and jaw connects to the upper cervical spine. This part of the spine has no problem balancing your head in a straight position, but when you adjust your head to the level of your phones or monitors, you add more stress and tension to this area. In addition, the upper cervical spine and jaw sit next to each other, so neck issues manifest as pain in the jaw area.
Upper Cervical Care for TMJ Relief
The home remedy tips we shared above can potentially alleviate TMJ pains. There are cases, though, where an upper cervical misalignment trigger TMJ pain and the best way to achieve long-lasting TMJ relief is through upper cervical chiropractic care.
Upper cervical misalignments can lead to issues in the jaw area due to their proximity. The upper cervical spine consists of the atlas and axis bones, which protect the brainstem and connect the head to the neck. Therefore, even a slight misalignment in the upper cervical spine can lead to detrimental results that can affect you permanently if left ignored.
Misalignments in this region can result from an injury from heavy trauma, accidents, or even poor posture. Checking your neck area for any misalignment is beneficial to help prevent conditions like TMJ disorder. If a misalignment is confirmed, slowly and gently shifting the bones back to their proper alignment can prompt your body to heal naturally, reducing TMJ symptoms and eventually eliminating them.
West Pasco Chiropractic Clinic Can Help
To manage jaw pain caused by an upper cervical misalignment, you can always book your schedule by calling (727) 514-8532 or using our online contact form to restore your spine’s alignment and balance with the help of Dr. Dingus.
Dr. Dustin Dingus will conduct a full assessment and imaging tests on your first visit to determine if the TMJ pain resulted from a misalignment in the neck. This will also help him assess and identify the best approach that fits your needs. Guiding the neck’s bones into their places through upper cervical chiropractic care leads to long-lasting results and better healing.