7 tips for jaw problems
Jaw problems can be a real handicap on a daily basis and can be very painful. They sometimes generate a lot of stress and anxiety. While surgery may be an option in the most extreme cases, it has not been proven to be safe and effective. It must, therefore, be reserved only for exceptional cases. Corticosteroids can help relieve pain, but don’t correct the cause of the problem. Chiropractic can help restore normal jaw function. Your dentist should always be kept informed if you have a problem or jaw pain. Here are 7 tips you can apply at home to get some relief from your jaw problem:
1. Never try to force the jaw …
Never force your jaw, even if you don’t have pain. The jaw is a fragile joint that must be used gently. A small cartilaginous disc links the bones, and you could damage it, which can lead to more serious problems.
If your jaw is blocked in the opened or closed position, or if you feel a blockage, check that there is nothing more serious – like an infection for example – by going first to the doctor, then to your chiropractor to correct your jaw (ask your chiropractor if they work on the jaw before making an appointment).
The position of your jaw is related to your posture. Indeed, all the muscles connected to your jaw come from what is called the “axial skeleton” (in this case: the skull, the hyoid bone, the vertebrae, and the ribs).
If your spine is straight and your head is well-positioned, you decrease the tension in the jaw which can help in healing and relieving tension and pain. So think about your posture, both at work and in your personal activities to help your body heal.
3. Jaw exercises
You can follow jaw exercises to strengthen and relax the jaw muscles and relieve pain. They can all be done with or without added resistance. Pay attention to pain in this area as you don’t want to force anything in this joint.
Open and close: with your tongue touching your palate, open and close your jaw slowly, not going further than the cracking or blocked area. Relax the jaw muscles during the exercise. You can add resistance by holding your chin with one hand.
Lateral: with your tongue touching your palate, release the jaw and drop it a few millimeters. Gently move the jaw from left to the right. You can add resistance by putting your hands flat on the back of the cheeks.
Front and back: with your tongue touching your palate, release the jaw and drop it a few millimeters. Slide the jaw back and forth. Hold your chin during movement if you want to add resistance.
4. Heat and cold
You can relax the jaw muscles and reduce pain by putting a warm towel on the jaw. Heat should not be used if there is inflammation.
You can also put ice on tense muscles. Always put a cloth between the ice and the skin and don’t keep ice on the area for more than 15 minutes an hour.
The muscles in your jaws are sensitive to your emotional state. Try to relax your mind and jaw by meditating and doing enjoyable and relaxing activities. Many sports or health professionals specialize in stress management if you need help with this.
6. Dental mouthpieces
Dental mouthpieces can be used to protect or re-align the teeth and jaw. If you are clenching your teeth or your teeth/jaws are not aligned, a mouthpiece may be the solution for you. Ask your dentist if they can help.
7. Avoid putting your jaw through stress
During the duration of jaw problems, you should avoid stressing your jaw. Avoid big movements like yawning and singing. Avoid foods that are too hard to chew such as raw apples and carrots, chewable meats, etc. Prefer softer foods. Do chew gum. Avoid contact sports.