What is Jaw Pain?
Jaw pain, also known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, is pain in the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. It can cause a number of different symptoms including:
- Jaw pain and stiffness
- Locking of the jaw
- Clicking or popping with movement of the jaw
- Earache or ear pain
It is often worse when chewing, yawning, during stressful periods or after dental appointments.
There are many different reasons why you may be suffering from TMJ pain. It can come on following an injury or infection, as a result of wear and tear, a misalignment of the jaw, or teeth grinding.
Jaw Pain and Teeth Grinding
One of the most common causes of TMJ pain is teeth grinding. People who grind their teeth often do so as a result of stress and are usually unaware that they are doing it. Teeth grinding often happens at night, and you may not realise what is going on until you begin to experience jaw pain.
Other symptoms that might indicate that you are grinding your teeth include:
- Facial pain
- Disturbed sleep (for you or your partner)
- Damaged teeth or fillings
If you suffer from jaw pain, it is important that you visit a dentist who will be able to confirm whether you are grinding your teeth. They may also be able to prescribe a special mouth guard to help.
Acupuncture for Jaw Pain
Acupuncture can help with jaw pain in several different ways:
- Acupuncture influences the sensory nerves to relieve pain
- Acupuncture boosts endorphins (your body’s natural painkilling chemicals)
- Acupuncture reduces inflammation
- Acupuncture relieves stress and relaxes the muscles
- Acupuncture improves circulation to promote healing
There are many acupuncture points located around the jaw which can be used locally to relieve pain. Other points may also be selected to help you to relax and keep your stress levels down. If you also suffer from headaches or neck pain, we can address those symptoms too.
Relieving Jaw Pain Naturally
Acupuncture is a great way to relieve jaw pain naturally, but there are plenty of things you can try at home too. By taking a little extra care of you jaw, you can help to relieve TMJ pain and prevent it from happening again in the future.
Eat Soft Food
One of the best ways to relieve and prevent jaw pain is by eating food which doesn’t require too much chewing. Soups, stews and pasta are all good choices, but avoid serving them with crusty bread which can strain your jaw. You should also steer clear of hard fruit such as apples, chewing gum and chewy sweets.
Opening your mouth wide to yawn can really aggravate jaw pain, so try and train yourself to yawn carefully, with your mouth open just a little.
Learn to Relax
Stress is a leading cause of jaw pain, and practising relaxation techniques may help. Other stress related habits such as nail biting or chewing on pen tops can make TMJ pain worse, so finding alternative ways to cope with pressure will certainly help.
Massage and Exercise
Regularly massaging your jaw, face and neck can relieve tension and reduce pain. Practising TMJ exercises may also help. These exercises are thought to stretch the jaw to improve mobility and strengthen the surrounding muscles to reduce pain.
Use Heat or Cold Packs
Using heat packs or ice packs is another way to easily relieve TMJ pain at home. It may be especially helpful to use these after visiting the dentist or any other activity that makes your pain worse.
If you are suffering from jaw pain or any related conditions, and would like to learn more about how acupuncture could help you, contact us today and we will be happy to answer any questions.