How to Relax Your Jaw – The Best Ways to Relax Your Jaw

How to Relax Your Jaw
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The muscles around the chin control movements such as opening and closing the mouth, chewing and yawning. Depending on the cause, a person may feel a tight chin on the left, right, or both sides of the chin. It may occur suddenly or gradually and may last for a long time. Tension can also occur when the jaw is sore. A person can usually relax the jaw muscles through exercise, stress reduction techniques, or the use of a tooth guard. In this article, we will explore the causes of locked jaw and ways to relieve jaw tension and pain.

What Muscles Are in the Jaw?

This jaw muscle is called orbicularis oris muscle. The function of orbicularis oris muscle is to close the oral fissure. The deep muscle bundle can make the lips close to the teeth, and the lips protrude. It becomes a whistle like action, and can act together with the buccal muscle for sucking. This muscle is innervated by the buccal and marginal mandibular branches of the facial nerve.

Symptoms of Locked Jaw

Some patients may not feel the symptoms of locked jaw. Locked jaw usually occurs in the posterior teeth. The posterior teeth have a relationship of crisscross between the cusps and sockets, so that they can exercise the chewing function. When the posterior teeth of the upper jaw and the lower jaw are not in the normal occlusion state, the general situation is that the upper jaw bites on the outside of the mandibular teeth, which is called the buccal side, also known as the orthognathic jaw. The other case will bite to the inside, which is called anti lock jaw. If the locked jaw time is too long, the teeth will be more worn, and there may be tooth soreness or dental pulp symptoms. After a long time, it will also change. Some patients, especially when they tilt too much to the inside, may feel that there is a certain obstruction to the tongue, and there will be symptoms. Generally, locked jaw is naturally formed. With the eruption of teeth, the patient has no symptoms, and it often appears in the later stage.

Locked jaw is formed naturally with the eruption of teeth. Early loss, retention or abnormal position of permanent tooth germ of primary molars in childhood, and dislocation eruption of teeth can lead to jaw locking. Some people have the habit of chewing sideways because of decayed teeth on one side. Over time, the disused side is easy to form a deep cover and gradually develop into locked jaw. In addition, the lack of jaw development is also one of the reasons for the formation of locked jaw.

Locked jaw has a great impact on masticatory function, facial development and the health of masticatory organs. Locked jaw’s posterior teeth almost lose chewing function, and the jaw locking time is too long, which will aggravate the wear of teeth, and then cause the symptoms of tooth sensitivity and pain. Locked jaw patients are prone to temporomandibular joint symptoms. In severe cases, the left and right faces will also be asymmetric. Some patients even feel that the teeth hinder the tongue.

Causes of Locked Jaw

Some nerves and muscles control the movement of the jaw. Because of its anatomical structure, locked jaw is usually characterized by a partially open jaw position. The 10 possible causes of locked jaw may include:

1. Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD or TMJD)

In many cases, the actual cause of the disease may not be clear. Sometimes the main reason is the excessive tension of the mandibular joint and the muscle groups that control chewing, swallowing and speaking. This tension may be the result of bruxism. This is habitual, involuntary clenching or grinding. However, trauma to the jaw, head or neck may lead to TMD. Arthritis and mandibular disc displacement can also cause TMD pain. In other cases, other painful diseases such as fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome may overlap or aggravate the pain of TMD. A recent study by the national dental and craniofacial Institute found that clinical, psychological, sensory, genetic and neurological factors may increase the risk of chronic TMD.

2. Stress

Too much tension on your jaw can even lead to lockjaw, a condition in which muscle spasms prevent you from opening your mouth very wide.

3. Teeth grinding (bruxism)

Bruksiz um is a condition in which you grind, gnaw, or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth while awake (conscious bruxism), or clench or grind your teeth while sleeping (sleep bruxism), which will lead to locked jaw.

Sleep bruxism is considered to be a sleep related movement disorder. People who clench their teeth or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to suffer from other sleep disorders, such as snoring and apnea (sleep apnea).

Mild bruxism may not require treatment. However, in some people, bruxism may be frequent and severe enough to cause locked jaw, headache, tooth damage, and other problems.

Because you may have sleep bruxism, and you don’t realize it until complications occur, it is important to understand the symptoms and signs of bruxism and seek regular dental care.

4. Excessive chewing

A number of studies have shown that TMJ dysfunction can exacerbate headache disorders, and that successful treatment of TMJ dysfunction can improve the headache disorder. As a headache specialist, I routinely evaluate the TMJ. During the examination, I palpate the joint, while the patient makes different jaw movements. I can often feel, and at times hear, the dysfunction in the joint. These problems are usually due to the misalignment or damage that has occurred to the tendons, ligaments, and/or cartilage involved with jaw movements. When severe, the TMJ can painfully “lock,” and the person is unable to move their jaw until the joint is realigned, which can at times require surgery. These issues can occur in association with bruxism, excessive jaw clenching, jaw trauma, and at times without any clear cause.

5. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

RA is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues in and around the joints.

Although RA commonly affectsTrusted Source the hands, wrist, and knees, it can also cause inflammation in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or jaw joint. If there is jaw involvement, it usually occurs later on in the course of the disease.

The inflammation due to RA can lead to pain and stiffness in the jaw, which can interfere with a person’s ability to eat, drink, speak, and sleep. RA can also interrupt jaw development in children.

6. Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis is a common form of degenerative arthritis, which can affect any joint in your body. It’s associated with joint overuse, and it becomes more common as you age.

Osteoarthritis of the jaw is characterized by the destruction of the hard and soft tissues around the jaw joints. This can change the shape and functioning of the jaw.

Jaw damage may be on one or both sidesTrusted Source of the jaw.

7. Tetanus

Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria called Clostridium tetani. When the bacteria invade the body, they produce a poison (toxin) that causes painful muscle contractions. Another name for tetanus is “locked jaw”. It often causes a person’s neck and jaw muscles to lock, making it hard to open the mouth or swallow. 

8. Facial trauma

Mandible fractures account for a significant portion of maxillofacial injuries and the evaluation, diagnosis, and management of these fractures remain challenging despite improved imaging technology and fixation techniques. Understanding appropriate surgical management can prevent complications such as malocclusion, pain, and revision procedures. Depending on the type and location of the fractures, various open and closed surgical reduction techniques can be utilized.

9. Medications

Some medications can affect nerve function and lead to lockjaw. 9 The most common culprits are anti-nausea medications, such as Reglan (metoclopramide ) and some antipsychotic medications.

10. Infections

Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria called Clostridium tetani. When the bacteria invade the body, they produce a poison (toxin) that causes painful muscle contractions. Another name for tetanus is “lockjaw”. It often causes a person’s neck and jaw muscles to lock, making it hard to open the mouth or swallow.

Why Do I Clench My Jaw?

Clenching the jaw is usually caused by emotional problems such as stress and anxiety. Muscle tension is a common symptom of these emotions, including persistent clenching of the jaw, which leads to some of the above problems. For bruxism, dislocated teeth are another common cause because they rub together more easily.

Other potential reasons for clunching my jaw include:

  • Clench your teeth when you focus on difficult things. This will soon form a bad habit.
  • Minor use of stimulant drugs such as ecstasy, amphetamines or cocaine.
  • Other diseases or disorders such as sleep apnea, ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy and night terrors.
  • Drinking. This triggers excessive activity in your jaw muscles, which can lead to tooth grinding at night.
  • Smoking in one study, young heavy smokers were more than twice as likely to have bruxism.
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as lack of vitamin D and calcium 2.
  • Dehydration
  • SSRI antidepressants

Clenching jaw is most common among children, adolescents and young people, but gritting teeth tends to disappear with age. It may also be more common in people with aggressive, hyperactive, or competitive personality types.

How Do I Relax My Jaw?

1. Exercises to Relax the Jaw and Facial Muscles

  • Jaw Joint Stretch: 

Try relaxing the jawby resting the tip of your tongue behind the upper front teeth and lowering the bottom of the jaw so that the lower teeth move away from the upper teeth. This will help stretch and relieve muscle tightness of the jaw and neck.

  • Manual jaw opening: 

Slightly open and close your mouth several times to warm up. Next, place your fingers on the top of your front four bottom teeth and slowly pull down until you feel a slight discomfort on the tight side of your jaw. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then slowly release your jaw back to the starting position.

Repeat this stretch 3 times and slowly work your way up to 12 repetitions.

  • Smile stretch: 

look at a mirror and give your widest smile you can without feeling tightness or pain. While smiling, slowly open your jaw an additional 5cm’s, inhale deeply through your mouth and exhale while letting go of the smile. Repeat this process 10 times. This exercise aims to help eliminate stress in the facial muscles, jaw and neck.

Read More: How Many Exercises Per Workout Session

2. Consider wearing a nightguard or bite splint

Nightguard is a plastic part similar to a retainer, which can be hard or soft. Nightguard covers the mating surface and can be worn on the bottom or top gear set. Because patients have different tooth patterns, the guard night is customized for each patient to fit your teeth through shaping without the risk of discomfort or unnecessary bulkiness.

Nightguard is usually installed accurately on your teeth and teeth, because its purpose is to protect the tooth surface and prevent them from rubbing against each other. Because sports goggles are soft and made of thick rubber material, their design is not suitable for your bite. Softer materials will make you chew while you sleep because the brain interprets them as food. This may cause muscle discomfort and premature wear of soft material on the mat. If you choose to wear a sports mouthguard at night, it will cause your bite to change over time. When your bite changes, this effect will appear after a period of time.

3. Give yourself a massage

Knowing how to relax your jaw is not rocket science. Probably the oldest, tested and proven and trusted way to help you alleviate the painful symptoms is to get a good old-fashioned facial massage

Massages help improve muscle tightness and encourage better blood flow. With facial massage for example, the muscles around your ears and at the temporomandibular joint are massaged in a circular motion to give a good and quick relief from the pain. 

These exercises and quick solutions can provide quick and short relief for tight and painful jaws. If your goal is to live a happy and pain free life, then it would be best to consult your doctor or dentist and have the problem addressed head on. 

4. Change up your diet

Changing diet can reduce the mechanical stress of temporomandibular joint, and help relieve mandibular pain and relax my jaw.

We should avoid eating hard or chewy foods (such as popcorn, dried meat, hard meat, chewy bread, gum, raw apples and carrots) because they will make your chin work overtime. Choose foods that are soft and easy to chew, such as eggs, casseroles, yogurt and soup.

We can also cut the food into bite sized pieces and chew them slowly.

Don’t chew gum for a long time.

If your jaw hurts when you eat a certain food, please avoid eating this food for a week or more until the jaw pain disappears.

If your joints are too painful to chew, or your joints are locked, you may need to cook the food in a food processor for days or weeks.

Exercises to relieve jaw tightness

  • Manual Jaw-opening Exercise

During the manual jaw opening exercise warm-up, we repeated the small opening and small closing movements several times. Then, we put our fingers on the top of the front four lower teeth. Then pull it down slowly until you feel a slight discomfort on the tight side of your chin. Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly release the chin and return to the starting position. Start by repeating this stretch 3 times, up to 12 times.

  • Jaw Joint Stretch

Jaw joint stretch helps stretch the muscles of the chin and neck. We can press the tip of the tongue directly on the upper jaw behind the upper incisors without touching them. Next, press gently with your tongue. Slowly open your mouth as much as you can, then slowly close it. When you feel out of place, stop. Repeat jaw joint stretch10 times at most. However, if this causes you any pain, you should not do this exercise.

  • Smile Stretch

Smile stretch helps relieve pressure on facial muscles, upper and lower jaw and neck. Try to smile and don’t feel nervous or painful. As you smile, slowly open your chin another 2 inches. Breathe in deeply with your mouth, then exhale, and put down your smile. The smile stretch can be repeated up to 10 times.

Medical Treatments

Treatment for lockjaw often involves medication and physical therapy. Any underlying problems often require additional treatment. For example, if you also have an infection, your treatment will include antibiotics. Specialists who treat lockjaw include:

  1. Hot or Cold Compresses
  2. Medications
  3. Injections
  4. Acupuncture
  5. Surgery
  6. Shortwave Diathermy Laser Treatment

Final Thoughts

Tight jaw muscles or joints are common. Stress, anxiety, injury, and inflammation can cause muscle tension and pain. A tight jaw may affect a person’s ability to eat or speak. We need to choose soft food, perform jaw movement and wear a mask to help relax the tight jaw.

*Find More Muscle Relaxation Methods Here!


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