Wait a minute, what’s that clicking sound coming from my jaw? Are you frequently waking in the morning with sore cheek muscles, loose or temperature-sensitive teeth, a headache, earache, or jaw pain? If so, you may be grinding your teeth or habitually clenching your jaw in your sleep (or even during waking hours).
Known as bruxism, this is a fairly common problem caused by the excessively active contraction of the masticatory muscles (chewing muscles). It can also be a symptom of nervous tension or suppressed anger. If you leave it untreated, bruxism can eventually wear down your teeth.
The muscles of mastication (chewing muscles) functions are to position the jaw, they’re responsible for movement and stabilization of the joint. It is a complicated joint and the two hard bone surfaces, temporal and mandibular bones are separated by a circular piece of softer cartilage which acts like a cushion.
The symptoms I mentioned above are all prevalent but can be missed, dismissed or we grow accustom to the feeling and think it’s normal. One important clue is how often are your upper teeth meeting the lower teeth. They really should only be meeting when you’re using them to chew.
Just imagine any other muscles in your support and movement system kept under tight contraction for several hours. The structural imbalance will form an excessive level of tension and tone in these muscles as a way to protect both the teeth and the joint, followed by restriction of range of motion, hyper irritable tissue, referral patterns and other symptoms.
People who are at Risk to develop bruxism: who have chronic stress or anxiety, Aggressive or competitive personality, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Age: 40 or younger; especially common in women aged 27-40, Family member with bruxism, Facial or oral trauma, Use of psychiatric medications, especially anti-depressants such as Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac, Prior serious head injury.
In most cases, bruxism doesn’t cause serious complications. But severe bruxism may lead to: Damage to your teeth (including restorations and crowns) or jaw, Tension-type headaches, Facial pain, Temporomandibular disorders — which occur in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), located just in front of your ears and felt when opening and closing your mouth.
“TMJ” You may have seen signs or heard about it at your dentist office but don’t be led to believe this is an ailment of your teeth. TMJ sufferers experience high-intensity headaches, difficulty with chewing, painful joint clicking and popping, and other symptoms. With the progression of the pathology, individuals may even develop sleep disorders.
Who Diagnoses TMJ? Sufferers may see multiple healthcare professionals in their quest for relief, including primary care physicians; ear, nose and throat specialists; neurologists; pain specialists; and chiropractor, among others. However, your dentist can diagnose and do treat most cases of TMJ, according to the TMJ Association, Ltd.
Prevention is Key
The elimination of bruxism is an extremely important factor that will allow the masticatory muscles to be restored to normal and prevent re-accumulation of tension in the muscles.
Synergy and working with your team of experts
My referral network includes chiropractor, Dentist to Medical doctors we can lend a hand and work together to restore your health. Neuromuscular therapy works well and compliments other treatments by addressing Bruxism and TMJ symptoms to reduce and restore muscle health .
Read a client experience, testimonial “My dental cleanings were very painful – I was left to chewing on one side that only made the TMJ worse, I was in constant pain. Immediately after my first session with Mara – my jaw pain was less and overall my jaw and face felt relaxed. My jaw could drop down and it was easier to open and close without fear of the clicking followed by pain. I can now tolerate a full dental cleaning without intense pain. To remain for 45 minutes with my mouth open was just impossible before. I would recommend Mara Nicandro LMT, NMT, MMT to others; in just two treatments my TMJ complains/pain are 50% improved.” S. S., Physical Therapist, Plano
Self Care Tip
Get a clean cork from a wine bottle. Put it between your front teeth sideways and leave it there as you cook dinner, watch TV, or read. If your jaw is really tight, you may need to slice the cork in half (vertically) at first. You shouldn’t feel that your jaw is being stretched open, just that you are creating a little distance between your top and bottom teeth and giving your jaw muscles a rest. Try it at first for five minutes, then see if you can work up to more. Over time, you’ll become much more aware of clenching your jaw muscles and you’ll know how it feels not to do it.
My Hope is that you find this information useful, helpful and informative to help you make the right choice for your health care needs. Do you catch yourself clenching or grinding and what have you done to reduce or eliminate it?
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References: Clinical Application of Neuromuscular Techniques Volume 1 . The upper body by Leon Chaitow and Judith Walker Delany; Mayo Clinic.com