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What is Jaw Tension?
When stress builds up in the jaw joint, it is referred to as jaw tension or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJ). As complicated as that sounds, it’s actually very simple.
The temporomandibular joint is located on both sides of the head at the point where the jawbone meets the skull. Problems can develop when the supporting muscles and ligaments of the temporomandibular joint are over stretched and out of alignment or when there are problems with the joint itself such as arthritis.
Depending on the cause, temporomandibular joint disorders can affect people of all ages, although women under the age of forty are more prone to the tension and stress related problems.
Many people complain of problems associated with their jaw. People suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder may experience difficulty in opening or closing their mouths, or their jaws may ache at certain times. Talking may become difficult, and eating and swallowing uncomfortable. Headaches, earaches, neck pain, stiffness and sometimes jaw clicking or teeth grinding are also listed as symptoms.
What Causes Jaw Tension?
There are many factors and causes of TMJ. The most common causes of TMJ are a joint which becomes overworked and disjointed, causing stiffness and discomfort.
Common Causes of TMJ
- Jaw Clenching - or Bruxism (you may grind your teeth during the day and/or at night while you sleep)
- Poor posture
- Poor diet
- Lack of sleep
- Inability to relax
- Medical conditions such as arthritis, jaw dislocations and fractures
Help for Jaw Tension
If you are experiencing TMJ symptoms, your doctor or dentist will be able to determine the causes of temporomandibular joint disorder and suggest treatment. Treatment usually depends on the type of jaw ailment and TMJ symptomsyou are experiencing.
Often, a mouthpiece or an adjustment to your bite (the way the teeth come together) is all that is required. The dentist may prescribe painkillers, or recommend heat or ice packs to help soothe the pain. Jaw exercises also help to strengthen the muscles and the jaw. In more extreme cases, surgery is necessary.
More Information on Jaw Tension
A lot can be done in a personal capacity to alleviate discomfort and other symptoms that may cause distress.
Additional Treatments for Jaw Tension
- Counseling, acupuncture, the Alexander technique (correcting your posture) and relaxation therapy to relieve stress
- Eating soft, healthy foods that do not stress the jaw joint such as soups, fish, yogurt, steamed vegetables and soft fruits
- Stretching your neck regularly
- Applying pressure to your jaw
- Sleeping on your back to avoid applying pressure to your face
- Adding calcium to your vitamin intake