Clenched jaw? Tension headaches? You can relieve TMD

bruxism teeth clenching teeth grinding botox

If Bruxism and tension headaches are causing you pain and discomfort, Oceanside Medical has non-invasive options. If you want to try Botox, our qualified physician can assist you.

TMD is temporomandibular disorder – pain and stress on the joint that connects the jawbone and skull. Through the pandemic, I’ve been conscious of clenching my jaw more than usual.  The muscles in my template are often to tight, that rubbing them is painful. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve heard of several friends needing dental appointment for cracked teeth, where fillings have been put under pressure thanks to teeth grinding at night (called bruxism).

I went to chat to an expert who had a good way of explaining it.

“When a runner’s gait is off, they can develop shin splints. If you point any joint under regular stress, and add some poor posture and unbalanced muscle strength, minute hairline cracks can result.

“When we’re stressed, we tend to hunch a little bit more, which then causes some low-level clenching,” she said. “If you are sleeping, or very focused on a computer, one reaction is to hold the jaw in a tightened position for long periods.”

“Many people experience localized tension in their cheeks or at the joint,  and eventually headaches or migraines. Jaw clicking or  popping is another symptom,” she told me. “You might find you can open your mouth wide, and you feel pain with chewing or yawning.”

According to HealthLink BC, while individual cases will vary, things like muscle tension, stress, clenching and grinding teeth can all contribute to TMD problems.

What can help immediately

  • Reduce stress – mental calming exercises, or intense physical exercise are both good ways to combat situational stress quickly.
  • Massage can provide fast relief. Be careful about applying too much pressure.
  • Muscle tension reduces blood flow to the extensive network of blood vessels in your scalp. That can result in severe migranes. Anything that improves circulation will help – although you might experience a brief initial pain. A heating pad applied to the jaw can bring fast relief.
  • Botox injections into the chewing muscles can block the signals that tell these muscles to contract, relieving the grinding and clenching medium-term.

Long term – identify the causes

  • Check neck alignment. Tension at the upper part of the neck and dysfunction in the jaw are commonly found together.
  • Improve your posture. Your head weighs around 5kg or 11lbs. and is balanced on just 7 vertebrae and supported by around 20 muscles. If you run, don’t look down at your feet. If you sit make sure you head is balanced over your hips.
  • Speak to your dentist about a custom-made oral guard, especially if you grind your teeth in your sleep.