Foreign to most but your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are used daily to chew, talk and make all kinds of movements. It’s the little joint that connects your jaw to your skull and is part of the reason why many struggle with pain in exactly this region.
Symptoms of TMD
It is basically a disorder of the temporomandibular joint. People use TMD and TMJ interchangeably but usually refer to the same thing: Jaw discomfort, pain or dysfunction.
But the list can go on and on and help you understand why you might have
- pain in the ear, face, jaw or neck
- difficulty of opening your mouth wide
- issues or pain when chewing
- tinnitus (the ringing in your ears)
Causes of TMJ
TMJ can appear in many different shapes and doesn’t always have to be extremely painful.
Simple clicking or popping of the jaw can already be the first indication that something is cooking in your jaw. A wider jawline can also be a hint that the facial muscles are extremely overused or compensating.
However, the root of TMJ can be very different for everyone and can be based on
- a dislocated or locked jaw
- extreme muscle tension due to stress, anxiety or extreme concentration
- bruxism or grinding your teeth
- (former) injury of the jaw
Overuse of any muscle in your body is never great as fatigue and joint issues may come along over time and we are here for the long run!
What you can do
We never promote exercising this area of the face. It is already quite overused and a lot of people tend to hold their stress and tension in the jawline. A lot of our members continue to report that next to their looks also their jaw pain, headaches or TMJ symptoms have improved. This is based on specific facial massages and correct jaw alignment through chosen facial exercises of the program.
If you feel pain in your jaw, head, ear or neck area for more than a couple of days or if it is a recurrent issue, it is highly advised to book an appointment with your dentist & orthodontist. They are able to test if it is your TMJ which could be the root of your discomfort.
In some severe cases, botox injections reduce the overuse of the muscle. Surgery can be necessary when the joint has already suffered a lot or the jaw needs proper alignment.
Before it gets that far, we highly suggest reducing the triggers that cause that much stress if your TMJ isn’t based on jaw misalignment or injury. Pay attention to when you tend to clench your teeth and open up your posture, to take a breath and relax your mouth again.
Chewing gum isn’t a great help either and should be avoided.
Next to Face Yoga, we have a simple hack you can do after a long stressful day to relax your masseter muscle is to take a cylindric object that you clean before touching your face. It can be a makeup brush, a moisturiser or a big pen. You can roll up and down for a couple of minutes with an open mouth across your jaw to release the tension that accumulates throughout the day. This will allow for some healthy, restful sleep.