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Monday, 27 November 2017

Jaw Joint and Muscle Pain

Dr. Vincent Wan


Jaw joint and muscle pain are usually caused by overuse.  Your jaw joints and muscles may feel tired or sore after a long day.  You may be clenching and grinding your teeth at night and wake up in the morning with the symptoms.  This may happen more when you are stressed out.

The only permanent way to stop this pain is to stop the overuse of the jaw joints and muscles.  As we can never stop using our mouths, this is a very difficult thing to achieve.  Here are a few ways to manage the discomfort:

Occlusal Splint

You may be clenching and grinding your teeth.  Many people do this and don’t even realise it.  It usually occurs at night during sleep.  It happens more when we are stressed.  Clenching and grinding can damage our jaw joints, muscles and teeth.  Wearing a special mouthguard called an occlusal splint will help prevent damage.  These are specially made at the dentist from moulds of your teeth after analysing your damage.  Some occlusal splints will train your jaw to stop clenching and grinding by getting your jaw muscles to remember a certain jaw position.  Ask our dentists at Central Brisbane Dental whether an occlusal splint is appropriate for you.

Pain Killers

As the jaw joints and muscles are inflammed, anti-inflammatory drugs are the better pain killers.  Drugs containing ibuprofen are particularly good.  They however only provide temporary relief and there is a limit on how much you can take.

Ice and Heat

Place an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the jaw joints and muscles for 15 minutes.  Then place a heat pack on the same area for another 15 minutes.  Keep alternating between ice and heat packs.  The ice limits inflammation and may numb the area.  The heat reduces stiffness and enhances circulation and healing.

Jaw Exercises

There are stretching exercises to loosen stiff jaw joints and muscles when they are very inflammed.  There are strengthening exercises to do between flare-ups.  These make your jaw joints and muscles less easily become tender when they are overused.  These should not be done when your jaw is sore as they will make the pain worse.  In some cases, your dentist may referral you to a physiotherapist who is trained in dealing with jaw joint and muscle problems.  They can professionally loosen the jaw joints and muscles for you if needed.

Managing Stress

A lot of the time we overuse our jaw joints and muscles when we are stressed.  We clench and grind out teeth when we are stressed.  Trying to relax is the key but this is often easier said than done.