How reduce stress on your jaw ?
The jaw realizes about 10 000 movements a day, which is why this joint can suffer from a lot of tensions. The movements of the jaw are allowed by the joint between the skull and the mandible; this complex is called the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ).
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) affect 1 person out of 3; but only less than 7% of the population will seek for treatment.
TMD signs and symptoms:
- Pain and tenderness in the face and jaw
- Pain aggravated by chewing and other jaw movements like eating or yawning
- Limited mouth opening (less than 3 fingers width)
- Joint sounds (especially when eating and yawning)
- Otological symptoms (tinnitus, otalgia, sensation of water in the ear, perceived hearing loss...)
With stress, you might realize that you are clenching, grinding or have tension in the face and jaw.
Here are some advices to avoid stress on your jaw :
1- Good buccal position
2- Avoid bad oral habits
3- Good eating habits
4- Correct sitting position
5- Healthy lifestyle (anti-inflammatory diet, good sleep hygiene, physical activity)
6- Phone app to avoid oral habits
7- Visual reminders
1- GOOD BUCCAL POSITION
Teeth apart (no contact)
Tongue up - behind your upper front teeth, in the "clucking position"
Relax your jaw muscles
2- AVOID BAD ORAL HABITS
Tooth contact, clenching or grinding
Lip sucking or biting
Moving your jaw forwards (=protrusion)
3- GOOD EATING HABITS
Eat a soft diet (avoid hard/crunchy food)
Chew slowly: both sides or alternate sides
Cut food into small pieces
Avoid prolonged wide mouth opening (burger, apple, big sandwich...)
4- CORRECT SITTING POSITION
Check regularly your sitting position to avoid head forward
Sit correctly with a good head position
Don't rest your chin in your hands
5- HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
- Avoid inflammatory food like alcohol, refined sugars, dairy products...
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these are stimulants of the muscle activity.
- Avoid sleeping on your front.
- Establish a sleeping routine and stick to it (be disciplined as it might take up to 6 weeks before getting used to it).
- Practice at least 30minutes of physical activity per day
Try to stop smoking
6- PHONE APP TO AVOID ORAL HABITS
Download the "No Clenching" app on Itunes
It enables mental checking to avoid oral habits.
For example set the app to get a reminder every 30 minutes.
7- VISUAL REMINDERS
Print some visual reminders with the following 3 phrases and put the reminders in strategic places like home (bathroom, fridge, nightstand...), work (on the computer), in the car etc.
It will enable mental checking to reduce stress on your jaw.
Tongue up + teeth apart
Correct sitting position
3 slow deep tummy breaths
The aim is that it becomes automatic and you don't need the reminders or the app anymore.
Associated to those advices, there are series of exercises, massages and stretches for the jaw that you can do everyday. It will limit the tensions in your jaw and in your face.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any question!
Charlotte Mernier, Registered Osteopath
Jaw pain, face pain