We seldom think about the importance of the lower jaw, also known as the mandible. With it, we speak and sing, smile and laugh, chew food and have a drink, yawn, and yes, it even has a role when we kiss a loved one.
The realization of the jaw’s importance comes when we develop a condition that leads to pain, grinding, and loss of range of motion. This condition called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder afflicts thousands of people each day, all of them seeking TMJ pain relief from medicines, soothing balms, facial exercises, and other means available.
It is more common among women than men, but it is frequent in people aged 20 to 40 years old.
TMJ Pain Signs and Symptoms
Before diving into the top tips to get TMJ pain relief, let’s first run through these various signs and symptoms associated with the temporomandibular joint disorder:
- Neck pain
- Ringing in the ear or tinnitus
- Pain whenever you talk, chew, yawn, or whenever the mouth is open
- Soreness or tenderness around the face, jaw, eyes, and even in the scalp area
- Inability to open the mouth with a full range of motion
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Popping, grating, clicking, or grinding sounds from the mandible area
These signs and symptoms may appear on one or both sides of the jawline or face. The pain could come and go or persist for a very long time.
5 Bad Ideas For Your TMJ
While there are TMJ pain relief methods available to everyone, it is also good to actually prevent the condition in the first place. Avoid these things as they are bad to your TMJ:
1. Sleeping on Your Stomach
It is more natural to sleep on one’s back or sideways. Sleeping on your stomach or belly cranks your neck, head, and jawline, which could lead to compression, and later, jaw and neck pain. It also obstructs good breathing and circulation of blood.
2. Chewing Gum
Chewing gum can be relaxing especially during stressful or tense situations. However, it can also lead to teeth grinding, over-extension of the jaw, and poor enunciation since it can also change the natural movement of the jaw and mouth.
3. Biting of Fingernail and Hard Food Items
Biting one’s fingernails is common among people who feel anxious. While it is generally harmless, it could also lead to the jawline’s misalignment aside from being a socially inappropriate habit. Similarly, biting or chewing on very hard food items could also cause jaw pain, not to mention tooth damage.
4. Poor Posture
Unknown to many, having poor posture has a number of negative effects on our health. When the spinal column is bent in unnatural ways, it also tilts our head, neck, hips, knees, legs, and feet. Even our jawline is adversely affected by poor alignment and imbalance in the body.
5. Lifting Heavy Objects on One Side of the Body
Related to the ill effects of poor posture, always carrying a heavy object on one side of the body can also cause jaw pain since it affects the balance of the head and neck area, as well as the torso and lower parts of the body. When carrying objects such as a heavy briefcase or bag on one side of the body, it creates tension on the spine as it tries to compensate for the downward weight caused by the lifting side.
When lifting weights in the gym, take a conscious effort to exercise with an equal number of sets and repetitions. Always lift the weight that is appropriate to your strength level to avoid accidents and unnecessary stress on the bones, joints, and ligaments of your body.
6 Ideas to Help with TMJ Pain
There are many ways to address the pain in the temporomandibular joint. These range from simple changes to one’s routines or lifestyle or a much-needed spinal adjustment that leads to TMJ pain relief. If you, a friend, or a family member struggle with TMJ pain, consider…
1. Having a Regular Exercise Routine
A lot of body tension, including pain in the jawline, is due to stress and anxiety. Moderate exercise is a proven way of helping relieve stress while promoting overall cardiovascular health, emotional stability, and happiness. The release of so-called happy hormones or endorphins during exercise is also a good way to deal with your TMJ pain.
2. Join a Meditation Class
For centuries, Western and Eastern monks have practiced meditation to achieve a sense of peace and calm. This spiritual practice has many physical, mental, and emotional benefits, not to mention an analgesic effect. Through conscious breathing and “emptying one’s mind,” over time, you can develop a state of relaxation that also negates pain of all types, including the one associated with the TMJ.
3. Use a Well-Designed Backpack
Use a well-designed backpack that properly distributes weight or load on the shoulders, back, sternum, and hips. This prevents a lot of neck, head, jaw, and body pain. Some of the newer backpack designs, similar to the ones used by mountaineers and outdoor athletes, have been designed precisely to prevent pain and discomfort even while carrying some extra weight on the back.
4. Use an Ergonomic Chair
One of the most neglected things that lead to discomfort and posture problems is choosing a good chair. Whether at home or work, using an ergonomically designed chair will help save you from pain by allowing the body to rest on the seat in good posture. Some of the poorly designed seats actually cause unnatural sagging of the hips and poor alignment of the head, neck, shoulders, and back. The poor seating position could result in several health problems, including jaw, neck, and back pain. Always use a well-designed seat that provides comfort while preventing bad posture.
5. Face Massage
Simple circular massage of the face, including the jawline does wonder by helping relieve tension and stress.
6. Upper Cervical Chiropractic
A lot of pain in the head, neck, and even upper shoulders may be due to a misalignment of the atlas bone (or C1 vertebra) and the axis bone (C2 vertebra) of the upper cervical spine region. A quick, painless, and gentle adjustment of the upper cervical spine by a chiropractor could help relieve pain and tension almost immediately. Jaw pain can also stem from the improper alignment of the C1 and C2 vertebrae; that’s why a spinal adjustment is also an excellent TMJ pain relief option.