A tight jaw can be responsible for discomfort in many areas of your body, including your teeth, face, neck, ears, and head. The pain may be severe or described as throbbing or achy and can become worse when yawning or chewing. Other symptoms of a tight jaw include:
- Locking of the jaw joint.
- Limited range of motion when trying to open the mouth.
- Unpleasant clicking sounds.
Read on to learn about possible remedies for tight jaw.
Exercises to Ease Jaw Tightness
Some cases may respond to targeted exercises aimed at relieving tight jaw muscles. Three such exercises are described below:
- Manual Jaw-Opening – As a warm-up, open and close your mouth with small movements several times. Then, put your fingers on top of your middle four bottom teeth. Pull down slowly and stop when you feel a slight discomfort on the side of your jaw that is tight. Hold the position for 30 seconds, and then slowly bring your jaw back to the starting point. Begin by repeating this stretch three times, then gradually work up to 12 repetitions.
- Jaw Joint Stretch – Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth, but do not touch the teeth. Next, using your tongue to apply a gentle pressure, slowly begin to open your mouth wide, stopping when you feel discomfort. Then slowly close your mouth shut. Repeat up to 10 times. However, if this exercise causes you actual pain, then discontinue doing it.
- Smile Stretch – Think happy thoughts and smile the widest you can without experiencing pain or tightness. While smiling, slowly open your jaw an extra 2 inches. Take a deep breath through your mouth, then exhale while slowly letting go of your smile. Repeat up to 10 times.
Massaging your jaw helps reduce muscle tightness and increase blood flow. Open your mouth and, using a circular motion, gently rub the facial muscles next to your ears. This massage targets the area where the temporomandibular joints are located. Do this several times a day, including right before getting into bed.
Wear a Mouthguard
A mouthguard may be beneficial, especially if your jaw tightness is caused by grinding or clenching your teeth when you sleep. The type of mouthguard should be based on the cause of your tight jaw. For instance, there are different types of mouthguards for teeth grinding, and joint disorders. Your dentist can recommend an appropriate mouthguard.
There are also various other treatments that may provide relief, including:
- Neck and head stretches.
- Cold or hot compresses applied to the jaw muscles.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
- Muscle relaxers or antidepressants prescribed by a doctor.
- Injections of Botox.
- Shortwave diathermy laser treatment.
If you’ve tried home remedies and are still suffering from a tight jaw, the next step might be talking to your dentist about getting a mouthguard. If you live in Mt Pleasant, SC, Old Mt Pleasant Dentistry will evaluate your condition and provide you with a suitable appliance. So, please don’t wait, make an appointment with us today.