If you have jaw pain, chances are you are experiencing TMJ pain. TMJ is the temporomandibular joint, the connection between your skull and jawbone that involves the chewing muscles. This joint is what opens and closes your mouth and allows your jaw to move smoothly, open and close, chew, talk, and spit.
So what are your options if you’re experiencing jaw pain?
The first step is figuring out if you have jaw pain originating from your TMJ. If your jaw is popping or clicking, or if you’re experiencing muscle and joint tenderness and difficulty opening your mouth wide, you’re probably experiencing temporomandibular disorder, or TMD.
Your changes of developing jaw pain are increased with stress, excessive teeth grinding and clenching, or injury to your jaw.
The treatment for TMD can vary, and many doctors recommend eating softer foods, applying cold treatment to the area, gentle stretching, and relaxation techniques to minimize the aggravation of the joint and surrounding muscles.
A chiropractor can recommend intraoral myofascial release, a technique that targets the muscles surrounding the joint. The adjustment is performed from the inside of the mouth, but has proven to provide an effective relief of jaw pain long-term and can prevent TMD in the future.
Wearing a mouth guard during sleep can also be a great way to minimize excessive teeth grinding and pressure on the joint, which could reduce jaw pain in the long run as well. A chiropractor can also suggest at-home exercises that can help you stretch your jaw and reduce tension.