You’ve been working all day and you’re just about to finish up when you start to feel a painful headache creeping its way along your temples. No fun. While you might not expect it, that headache, sore neck or tight shoulders might actually be a reflection of what’s going on with your jaw.
Many people inadvertently clench their jaw out of stress or anxiety, and the tight jaw that results is far from enjoyable. While there can be a number of causes behind why your jaw might be feeling tight, there are ways to relieve it no matter the reason. The next time your jaw begins to feel a little too tight, stop it in its tracks by following these stretches from Medical News Today.
How to Relieve a Tight Jaw
Relaxed jaw stretch
- Rest the tip of the tongue behind the upper front teeth.
- Lower the bottom jaw so that the lower teeth come away from the upper teeth.
- Remember to keep the jaw muscle relaxed.
- Press the tongue against the roof of the mouth.
- Place one index finger on the TMJ and the other on the chin.
- Lower the bottom jaw as far possible.
- Close the mouth and repeat.
Resistance mouth opening
- Hold the tip of the chin in the right hand with the thumb resting under the chin and the index finger wrapped around the front.
- Softly push the right hand against the jaw.
- Slowly start to open the jaw while continuing to push against the chin.
- Hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly close the mouth.
* all stretches from Medical News Today
What Else Can Help?
If doing the stretches doesn’t quite cut it for you, there are a number of other things you can try to loosen up a tight jaw. First and foremost, reducing stress in your everyday life is a great place to start, as this is a leading cause of why people experience jaw problems. Try incorporating yoga or meditation into your routine for extra stress-relief throughout the week.
If your jaw really hurts, giving it time to heal is key. Try using a hot or cold compress on the affected area, applying heat for fifteen to twenty minutes or cold for no more than five. In addition, eating soft foods will help to reduce pressure on the jaw — so foods like soup, smoothies and yogurt should be what you’re reaching for when experiencing pain.
Furthermore, WNY Dental suggests that eliminating caffeine could also help with a tight jaw. In addition to interfering with sleep, caffeine can also exacerbate muscular tension. By swapping your morning coffee for a tea containing less caffeine or, better yet, a caffeine-free juice, you might find the secret to fixing your tight jaw problem.
As everyone differs, different things will provide relief for different people. For people who might clench or grind their teeth at night, mouth guards are sometimes recommended, and in extreme cases, an anti-inflammatory might help. If you try everything listed above, and still nothing works, it might be time to get some medical advice.