Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night clenching your teeth? Do you find yourself grinding or tightening your jaw during periods of stress? If so, it’s time to start learning about how to relax the jaw before it’s too late.
Grinding and clenching can lead to tension headaches as well as TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction). Results of untreated TMD include tooth decay, muscle soreness in the jaw and neck, headaches, and nerve pain. Severe cases of TMD disrupt the ability to chew and open the jaw normally.
Chronic headaches and TMD caused by grinding and clenching are both preventable with these few tips:
- Jaw stretch: Gently massage your jaw with your fingertips using small, circular motions. Then open your mouth as wide as you can, hold for a few seconds, then gently close. Repeat approximately ten times. This promotes blood flow to the jaw and also relaxes the jaw and face.
- Visualization: Sit in a comfortable and quiet space. Take slow and deep inhalations and exhalations. Focus on relaxing the entire jaw, the teeth, the tongue. Scrunch your face tightly. Then open it wide as if roaring like a lion. Relax. Repeat. All while taking slow, deep breaths. Visualization is a powerful relaxation and healing technique.
- Yawn: Don’t get bored just yet! Try yawning on purpose. Open your jaw wide, take a deep breath in, and stretch your arms wide. Exhale. Repeat. This relaxes the muscles of your neck, jaw, and face.
If you have tried these techniques and are still experience pain associated with grinding or clenching your teeth, contact Dr. Scurti today for your TMD consultation!