I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed, my jaw can go nuts! I definitely inherited any and all jaw pain issues from my dad. I can remember from a young age watching him work at stretching, strengthening, and massaging his face trying to counter the symptoms of an inflamed TMJ. Maybe you clench your jaw when you’re angry or stressed, maybe you grind your teeth in your sleep, or maybe you love to eat a cheeseburgers far larger than your mouth — whatever causes it, massage can seriously help relieve your pain!
If you’re experiencing pain, stiffness and clicking noises in your jaw, you might be one of the 15% of adults who are thought to have TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ affects more women than men, and tends to affect people from the ages of 20 to 40.
Do you have these problems?:
- Pain in one or both of your jaw joints, face or neck
- Pain when you chew
- Stiff jaw muscles
- Difficulty with fitting your teeth together
A clicking noise, while it can be a symptom, doesn’t necessarily mean you have TMD – many people experience popping and clicking noises with their jaws, and it’s only likely to be caused by TMD if you have one or more of the other symptoms also.
The good news is that most of the pain you get from TMD can be treated without needing surgery, and massage can help treat the cause of the problem, which relieves the symptoms. Sometimes the pain can come from something as simple as grinding or clenching your teeth, and if this case especially, regular massage therapy can really help to make a difference by counteracting the stress that’s making you grind your teeth.
Back in 1981, a dentistry study found that the teeth-clenching and grinding which often leads to TMD reduced when the masseter facial muscles were massaged.
Stress Relief Can Lead to TMD Relief.
We all know of the studies into massage as an effective stress reliever and its role in reducing anxiety, tension and stress has been reliably proven over the years. Massage leads to lower cortisol levels and increases in the amounts of feel good hormones such oxytocin and serotonin. The feeling of total relaxation that can be induced by regular massage is the key to reducing stress-related habits like teeth grinding.
Home Massage for TMD
Specific techniques can help the symptoms as they flare up, too. Try massaging your jaw with a kneading type pressure – use your fingers to make a constant, circular motion against the joints and muscles that are most affected.
Find the masseter muscles in your lower jaw – these are directly behind your molars and sitting just below your cheekbone.Start the massage by touching the corner of your mouth, then working your fingers all along your jaw until you feel a flat plane of bone. Massage the area by pressing gently with two or three fingers in a circular motion. Massaging like this helps to warm up the muscles and also stimulates the lymph function, flushing out toxins at the same time. Keep going with the jaw massage until you feel some relief from the pain.