If you are a teeth clincher or a grinder, listen up. If you don’t have some sort of jaw problem like TMJ (temporomandibular joint syndrome)yet, great. Hopefully some of these ideas will stop you from wearing away tooth enamel, increasing your teeth’s sensitivity, causing loose teeth, morning headaches, sore jaw muscles and painful chewing. My experience? I’ve had it all. When I was in my teens, my jaw started popping and clicking. Eventually I was evaluated by a dentist and I started wearing a night guard. I’m sure it protected my teeth, but it also made me clench harder. Eliminating or avoiding stress? Impossible, stress is a part of our life. Managing stress? Absolutely possible.
The jaw muscles are very strong. Hard to tell whether you have tight facial muscles until you start massaging your face. I’m going to start there. Even if you don’t clench or grind, these massage techniques are easy to do while sitting watching TV or at your desk. Grab under your bottom lip with your thumb and the side of your forefinger, starting at one side and moving to the other. Pinch gently and pull out until you feel a little sensation. Hold for a count of five and release. Do this 3-5 times. Also pull on your ear. Grab the back of your ear with your thumb and the front of your ear with your forefinger. Pull away from the head. Walk your fingers up and down your ear. There’s also eye yoga! Move the eyes up, to the side, down and to the other side. Rolling the eyes and moving them around the face of a clock. Notice any tension in the eye socket. During the day, shrug your shoulders up and down, drop the head to both sides and twist the neck, turning the head to the right and left. Most of us have overstressed muscles especially on the right side of the face. Notice if you only chew on the right side. Does chewing on the left make your jaw sore? It could just be under developed muscles on the left.
What to do while you sleep? Sleeping on your back avoids pressure to the neck and face. Use a thin pillow, keeping the head in line with your back. Before you fall asleep, take some deep breaths and on the exhale, release your head into the pillow. Try this a few times until you actually feel the sensation of sinking into the pillow. Lips together and teeth parted, allow your tongue to rest gently in the mouth. Set your intentions to sleep peacefully and not clench or grind your teeth. If there is someone by your side, ask them to make you aware of any grinding that you do at night. I had to retrain myself. I never sleep on my stomach anymore. I mostly sleep on my back. If I do sleep on my side, I sleep on both sides equally during the night, using a pillow that won’t lift my head higher than my top shoulder. Again, while I was suffering a lot of grinding, I set intentions for my new sleep habits.
Try also cutting back on caffeine and refined sugars and white flour products. Many doctors believe grinding is a nutritional problem. B-complex and vitamin C supplements with zinc also, may help reduce stress reactions. Also linked to tooth grinding, a deficiency of calcium, which is effective for treating involuntary movement of muscles, and pantothenic acid, important for proper motor coordination. You can check doses of these supplements in the book, Prescription For Nutritional Healing, by James Balch, M.D.
What does Louise Hay say about the jaw? And I’m listening to this one. Anger. Resentment. Desire for revenge. Your mantra….I am willing to change the patterns in me that created this condition. I love and approve of myself. I am safe.
Relax, breathe, surrender…….
If jaw pain last longer than a few weeks, consult your doctor.