Clenching and Grinding

The typical person with temporomandibular (jaw) joint/muscle problems is 20 to 50 years old. Your family physician may have treated the general aches and pains associated with the jaws, neck and back, and may have referred you to various medical specialists for other complaints - backaches, ear problems, head pain, eye soreness, allergies, tension headaches and stress management.

With the extra movement of your jaws, your jaw muscles can get overworked and go into spasm. There are many things, which you can do to relieve the spasm, some ideas are listed below:

  1. Temperature packs usually provide quick relief. Soak a face cloth in warm water, wring it out, and apply them to the painful area. Try doing this for about 10-15 minutes. Occasionally, an ice pack will help relieve discomfort and muscle soreness. Make sure that you do not leave the ice pack on the same area for longer than 10 minutes. Try repeating this 3-4 times a day.
  2. Sleeping patterns are important. Try to sleep on your back with only a small pillow. Large pillows can prop your head up at a stressful angle. Sleeping on your arms, hand or side of your face can push your jaw to the side and stress your joint and muscles. Try a pillow under your knees for more back support. Restful uninterrupted sleep is essential.
  3. Food - try to cut your food into smaller pieces, and try not to open your mouth too wide. Avoid foods which require prolonged chewing, i.e. raw vegetables, hard bread, tough meat, etc.
  5. Exercise regularly; it is a great way to relieve stress. Start slowly; walking is easier than you think. Please check with your physician before you start any strenuous exercises.
  6. RELAX - hobbies, less work, vacations will help. Try to control your stress. Find meaningful enjoyable activities. Smile and be happy - it helps.
  7. Avoid Caffeine and nicotine (coffee, tea, or colas).
  8. Avoid stressful habits such as: holding a telephone with your shoulder, wearing high heeled shoes, holding a pen/pencil between your teeth, making your jaw click.
  9. Try not to open your mouth too wide, try to place your tongue against the roof of your mouth to limit your opening. Try not to open wider than 2 fingers width.
  10. Try to breathe through your nose while holding your shoulder back. Good posture helps.
  11. Be assertive. If you don’t like what someone is doing - tell them. If you are not satisfied with how your life is going - change it. Be positive.

If these suggestions do not work to relieve the discomfort, please call Dr. Chopra and ask him about a night guard (bite splint). It may help relieve the muscle discomfort and jaw pain, which you are experiencing. It will also help to control the wear and pressure on your teeth. Most insurance companies may not cover this treatment, please ask us to see if your carrier offers some coverage. Please call us if you have any questions or problems.


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