Understanding Jaw Pain: How to Find Relief

For immediate relief

Apply moist heat or ice packs: Place ice in a plastic bag, wrap it in a thin cloth, and apply it to your face for 10 minutes. Then take it off for 10 minutes before reapplying it. Another option is to run warm water over a washcloth, then apply it to your jaw area. The moist heat can relax overactive jaw muscles and relieve pain. You may have to re-wet the washcloth several times to maintain the heat.

You can also purchase heat or ice packs at a pharmacy or online. However, they should be covered in cloth at all times, or they could burn your skin. If it feels too hot or too cold, remove it.

Keep reading: How to make a cold compress “

Over-the-counter pain relievers: Medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen may help to reduce discomfort.

Massage the affected joint: Using your index and middle finger, press the sore areas of your jaw, such as the area right before your ear where your jaw joints meet. Rub in a circular motion for 5 to 10 rotations, then open your mouth and repeat the exercise. Massaging the muscles on the side of your neck may also help relieve tension.

Here’s another massage technique you can try to relieve your jaw pain (tap the arrows to see all four videos):

Video via Adam Leavens, RMT, BCSI

Lifestyle strategies to reduce jaw pain long-term

Stress reduction: Try stress-relieving techniques to reduce jaw clenching. These could include:

  • yoga
  • journaling
  • meditation

These activities may help you reduce your jaw pain if it’s caused by stress.

Avoid chewy foods: Foods that are chewy, tough, or crunchy can place too great a strain on your jaw joint and lead to pain and discomfort later. Foods to avoid include:

  • apples
  • beef jerky
  • chewing gum
  • ice

Avoid caffeine: Your morning cup of joe could be contributing to your muscle tension, which can be increased by caffeine. Avoiding large amounts of caffeinated coffee and tea may help reduce your jaw pain over time, but you may initially feel muscle tension from caffeine withdrawal when cutting it out of your diet.

Medical treatment

Most doctors will first recommend non-invasive treatment methods for your jaw pain. If you still have jaw pain after trying these methods, you should talk to your dentist. You may need further interventions to find relief for your pain.

Mouthguard: A mouthguard is a plastic dental protector worn on your upper or lower teeth that’s custom-fitted for your mouth. Although you can purchase one at a pharmacy, a dentist will make you one that may fit better and last longer. Wearing one at bedtime can help stop you from unconsciously grinding your teeth.

Muscle relaxers: If your pain doesn’t respond to the mouthguard, your dentist may prescribe muscle relaxers to relieve jaw tension. However, these don’t always help people with TMD.

Botox injections: More invasive treatment methods include Botox cosmetic injections. When injected into the jaw muscles, the botulinum toxin found in Botox may keep your jaw muscles from clenching, possibly helping to relieve jaw pain due to TMD. These injections will last for months at a time and may require re-injection later.

Jaw surgery: In very rare instances, a doctor will recommend jaw surgery to correct TMD problems. This treatment is usually reserved for people with severe pain and pain that’s due to structural problems in the jaw joint.

Read more: Does Botox help treat chronic migraine? “

Everything you need to know about jaw pain

Share on PinterestA person may experience jaw pain because of an injury or strain.

Jaw pain can result from physical injuries, damage to the nerves or blood vessels, infections, and several other causes.

Temporomandibular joint disorder is a cluster of conditions that affect the bones, joints, and muscles responsible for jaw movement. These conditions can cause pain and discomfort.

It is a common complaint and usually goes away without medical treatment, though some types may need treatment.

The symptoms tend to vary, but they may include:

  • pain in the face and jaw
  • jaw locking
  • clicking, popping, or grinding sounds
  • tooth grinding or clenching
  • difficulty chewing or opening the mouth
  • a burning sensation in the mouth
  • sensitive teeth

The sections below list some of the potential causes.


Jaw pain can result from:

A broken jaw: This can result from a fall or a blow to the face.

A dislocated jaw: This can result from opening the mouth too wide, such as when yawning.

Dental surgery: This can cause jaw pain because it can take time to recover from a procedure.

An injury or strain can cause muscle tension, resulting in jaw pain.

How can a person recognize a broken or dislocated jaw? Find out here.

Teeth grinding and clenching

Many people grind or clench their teeth while they sleep or at times of emotional stress. This is also known as bruxism. It can lead to significant tooth damage and jaw pain.

Learn more about bruxism and what to do about it here.


Osteoarthritis and other types of arthritis can cause the smooth interface between the joints, and eventually the bones themselves, to wear away. Bone pain can develop as a result of this.

Also, inflammatory conditions such as synovitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis cause inflammation in the joints. If these conditions affect the jaw bone joint, pain can develop.

Dental conditions

Gum disease, cavities, tooth gaps, damaged teeth, and abscesses can all give rise to jaw pain.

Neuropathic pain

This type of pain occurs when nerves become damaged and send pain signals to the brain. Symptoms can be continuous or only occur from time to time.

Examples of neuropathic pain include trigeminal neuralgia, postherpetic neuralgia, and cancer-related pain.

Vascular conditions

Sometimes, a problem with the vascular system can lead to jaw pain. Some examples of vascular conditions include temporal arteritis, or giant cell arteritis, and angina.

In temporal arteritis, the arteries on either side of the head — in the temple region — become inflamed, resulting in headaches and jaw pain. This condition may also put a person’s vision at risk.

Angina can develop when the heart does not get enough oxygen-rich blood, usually due to a coronary artery blockage. It can cause chest pain as well as jaw pain. A person who has angina is also at risk of experiencing a heart attack.


In rare cases, an infection called osteomyelitis can affect the jaw bone and associated tissues. This is a rare complication of dental surgery.

Tension headaches

Tension headaches result from stress.

Research has found that some people with temporomandibular jaw pain also experience headaches, but there seems to be no link between the two conditions. For this reason, it is unclear whether or not there is a link between jaw pain and headache.

Other conditions

Some other conditions that may give rise to jaw and facial pain include:

  • salivary gland disorders
  • stress, fatigue, and a lack of sleep
  • autoimmune conditions, such as lupus
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • fibromyalgia
  • sinusitis
  • ear infections
  • some mental health conditions

Three Ways a TMJ Massage Can Relieve Jaw Pain

Temporomandibular joint disorders, more commonly known as TMJ, are usually the result of inflamed and painful chewing muscles around your jaw. For some, it’s a once-in-a-while issue that can come from too much chewing, like indulging in a piece of gum all afternoon. For others, however, TMJ disorder can be a chronic issue that results in constant pain and discomfort.

The cause for this chronic condition is relatively subjective, but may be linked to stress fractures, an imperfect bite, tooth grinding or tooth clenching related to stress. Luckily, a TMJ massage can act as an effective, non-medicinal way to deal with TMJ pain. Here are three specific therapies that can help you address the underlying issues no matter what the cause.

Kneading Massage

Kneading massage involves using your fingers to provide a constant, circular motion against the joints and muscles that are most affected (and the likely culprits) of TMJ pain. To apply this massage, according to Wroclaw Medical University, first locate the masseter muscles in your lower jaw: directly behind your molars and just below your cheekbone.

Start by touching the corner of your mouth and then working your fingers back toward your ear until you feel a flat plane of bone. You can massage this area by pressing gently with two or three fingers and moving in a circular motion, this warms the muscles and improves lymph function, an important bodily system that helps to flush out buildups of waste. In other words, stimulating your lymph nodes can remove these irritating materials as your massage fingers to increase blood flow to the affected area. Continue until you find some relief, and experiment with different areas of the jaw muscles to broaden the recovery process. Massaging your jaw with your entire hand, for instance, can be effective as well.

Friction Massage

Some find that pressure alone is enough to realize pain relief, but it needs to be done correctly and in the right place. Friction massage works well on the mandible muscle, which is the lower portion of your jaw just below the masseter, found along your jaw line. Touch the mandible and use your index finger to apply gentle, constant pressure to this muscle. Because everyone’s pain receptors respond differently, you may need to wade through some trial-and-error to find the spot and amount of pressure that works best for you.

Stretching Massage

If you find relief while pressing on the mandible muscle, you may want to try a stretching TMJ massage to further the relief process and effectively “exercise” the muscles most responsible for TMJ disorders. This massage should be done with two thumbs, so you might ask a partner for help if you find that you lack the proper angle or dexterity when using both thumbs on one side of your face.

Start with two thumbs parallel to your jaw line, just above the mandible muscles. Press on this muscle as you drag your thumbs down against your jaw, slowly stretching the muscle away from your maxillary (upper jaw). You can also stretch and massage the mandible muscle by placing two fingers of one hand on the mandible and two fingers of the other hand on the masseter muscles. Press your fingers toward each other, until the tips of your fingers are in the line between both muscles. Hold them for a few seconds before relaxing.

Because jaw soreness can come from behavior that causes other dental issues too, always continue a daily oral hygiene routine, even when your jaw muscles don’t feel well. You may find that a soft-bristled toothbrush such as Colgate® 360°® Toothbrush can avoid triggering teeth sensitivity if you grind your teeth at night.

TMJ pain can be a systemic problem if it doesn’t go away. If you do notice you’re sore or stiff for too long, see your dentist or doctor for treatment options, such as a mouth guard to stop nighttime grinding from taking its toll on your jaw. Treatment, paired with these TMJ massage techniques, can help you drop the pain and go back to a comfortable smile.

Stay alert for those habits that put your muscles at risk. If you always carry a heavy purse or briefcase on a shoulder strap and cannot bear to leave anything at home, it helps to support the strap with a hand at the shoulder. Better yet, switch the bag from shoulder to shoulder. Best: a backpack.

Ideally, you should head off the buildup of tension with a regular exercise routine you can do as a break during the working day. Here is a simple program you can do at your desk. Some of these may make you feel foolish, but they are often the ones that bring the greatest relief, since movement and stretching are balm for tense muscles. rrNeck Ovals:

The old standby, the neck roll, but modified so the largest arc is from shoulder to shoulder. Bend your neck over toward the left shoulder, then rotate down so your chin is on your chest. Continue over toward the right shoulder. Do not bend your head back too far -too extreme a bend can tense the muscles that have to support it in that awkward position. Do two or three rolls in one direction. Reverse and do them the other way. The Clock Stretch: This stretch rotates your neck in a different way than the neck roll. Imagine you are facing the hands of a huge clock. Turn your head to look toward your left shoulder, where 9 o’clock would be. Then to the right, toward 3 o’clock, up to 12, and down to 6 o’clock. It is best if you look straight ahead between each of the positions. Shoulder Shrugs: Hunch your shoulders up toward your ears, then rotate them forward, down, back and up toward your ears again. Do this a few times in both directions. Apple Picker: As though you were plucking apples from a tree, reach up with your right arm, then your left, stretching as far as you comfortably can while sitting in your chair. Go back and forth several times, stretching each side to its fullest. Backward Stretch: You have to stand up for this one. Reach behind you, touching palms behind your back. With your arms outstretched behind you, bring your chin to your chest. Then, in turn, bring each ear down toward your chest. Massage: Reach over your shoulder to the muscle just above your shoulder blade and toward the spine. With firm but gentle circular strokes, use your fingertips to massage the muscle, paying special attention to any tenderness or knots that you feel.

In doing these exercises, only move as far as is comfortable for you. If you feel pain, or any other unpleasant sensation, you are moving too far. Once you master this routine, it should only take about four or five minutes. If you find it embarrassing to exercise at your desk, you might try to find a time and place to do it in greater privacy.

There are some less-obtrusive methods for preventing muscle pain in the tension triangle. Some of these are mental. One trick is to imagine that a balloon is floating above your head, attached to the top by a string. Feel the light tug of the balloon lengthening your spine.

Another effective measure is to take a moment or two to scan the muscles that are most prone to tension. Simply become aware of the tension in each part of your body: shoulders, neck, jaw. When you find the tension is building in a group of muscles, relax it mentally without actively trying to move a muscle – just let it relax.

Once relaxed, you are in better shape to cope with that deadline and your boss.

Don’t let jaw pain or tightness affect your running—here’s what you can do.

Jaw pain may not be the most common complaint among runners, but it’s certainly not a symptom to be ignored. A number of factors can cause pain and discomfort at the jaw, so it’s important to get a medical diagnosis, says Michelle Finnegan, D.P.T., O.C.S., a physical therapist in Bethesda, Md., who specializes in treating patients with head, neck and jaw pain. Following are four causes of jaw pain during exercise and how to address them.


Most people associate signs and symptoms of a heart attack with chest and arm pain; however, jaw pain can be another sign associated with a heart attack. Typically the pain comes on with physical activity but goes away with rest. If you suspect cardiac involvement, see your physician before continuing to exercise.

Forward-Head Posture

When combined with the impact forces of running, forward-head posture can indirectly contribute to jaw pain, says Finnegan. “Imagine your neck is a stick and your head is a bowling ball. If the stick tips forward, that 10-pound ball is going to feel a lot heavier,” she says. When your head is forward, your neck muscles are subject to increased tension. Tight neck muscles can cause referred pain to the jaw.

If you have forward-head posture, start by making lifestyle changes such as minimizing time spent looking down at your smartphone and adjusting your computer screen at work if necessary. Exercises can also strengthen the neck muscles that keep your head and neck in good alignment.

Jaw Clenching

You may have been told in a yoga class to “soften your jaw,” and not realized you were even tensing it. Habitually clenching or tensing the jaw is a common cause of jaw pain, as it can contribute to the development of trigger points, especially in the masseter and temporalis muscles, says Finnegan.

It’s important to understand what’s causing you to clench in the first place, she says. Because most runners breathe with an open mouth, a clenching habit is less likely to be linked to running. But if you’ve already developed trigger points in your jaw, it’s possible to experience jaw pain while on a run.

TMJ Disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jawbone to your skull on each side of your jaw. TMJ disorders can cause pain in the jaw and the muscles around it—including difficulty or pain while chewing, pain in and around your ear, facial pain and difficulty opening and closing your mouth. Determining the exact cause of a TMJ disorder is important for prescribing treatment, Finnegan says. “A conservative approach should always be taken first. Frequently, by addressing impairments in the neck and jaw, symptoms will improve. This should be done prior to procedures such as shaving down teeth, having surgery or being fitted for an appliance. If a patient is being fitted for an appliance, it is important for the dentist and physical therapist to work together since physical therapy treatment to the jaw can influence the patient’s bite, requiring further adjustment of the appliance,” Finnegan says. “If the cause is musculoskeletal, a physical therapist can screen for whole-body contributing factors and provide you with appropriate exercises.”

Alignment Check

Exercises that benefit your core, such as planks and quadruped exercises, can be good for your jaw, too. By maintaining good alignment all the way to the top of your head, you strengthen the neck muscles that keep your head stacked over your shoulders, says Finnegan. Follow these cues to make sure your head and neck are in good alignment.

  • Don’t look straight in front of you.
  • Don’t let your head hang toward the ground.
  • Do slightly tuck your chin while keeping your head and neck in the same plane as your body.


Fixing And Preventing IT Band Syndrome

Tips For Headache-Prone Runners To Keep The Pain Away

Calf Muscle Strains (And What To Do About Them)

Shoulder and jaw hurts after running (treadmill)

I have TMJ as well, and once in awhile I feel an annoying-yet-not-painful pinch in my left shoulder. Only occurs once every 10-15 runs, but it’s damn annoying. Never jaw pain though. I never considered the two being related in all (until reading this post). One of my clients is in cranialorthopedics and working with him I learned a lot about how the neck and jaw and shoulders are connected to the overall body… so the shoulder pain might be referral pain from your tense jaw. However I am not a doctor.

I am also a treadmill runner, and when I began I realized my running posture was a lot different than running on roads (• see below). You might try relaxing your entire upper body when you start out on a run. Try running 10 minutes completely relaxed. Feel as if you’re a leaf in the breeze, even if that means running slower. After you’re done take note of how you feel versus how you normally feel. If you notice improvement maybe you’re too tense when you run on a treadmill. I had to do this for the treadmill and it definitely fixed a lot of other discomfort.

• Treadmills are a confined space. One might unconsciously “correct” their posture while running as not to run off the treadmill. For me, my legs were way too close together when I was running because I was afraid to accidentally step off the treadmill. This caused a brief period of knee discomfort. By widening my stance to normal (by doing relaxed running) I was able to run for longer periods of time and prevent improper-overuse injury

4 Reasons Why Your Teeth May Hurt While Exercising

Ever Wonder Why Your Teeth Hurt When You Run?

If you are an avid runner, there are few things that can prevent you from getting out and hitting the pavement…except maybe tooth pain. But even if you aren’t an everyday runner, or maybe a sometimes runner, you may find that your teeth hurt when you DO run. So why, exactly, do your teeth hurt when you run?

Cold Sensitivity

Some people have teeth that react to hot and cold temperatures, including the air! Cold air could be a reason why your teeth hurt when you run or walk.

Try This: When you’re outside, breathe through your nose and out through your mouth. Your lips, tongue, and cheeks will keep your teeth insulated. If you find that this works, you may want to talk to your dentist about how to reduce the sensitivity.

Bruxism is the unconscious habit of grinding or gritting the teeth, and many people do it when they’re stressed out or working hard. Do you grit or clench your teeth when you run up a hill? What about when you’re pushing for the finish line in that half marathon? If you do, odds are that the sensation you’re feeling in your teeth due to bruxism. When you run each step can send reverberations through your body, and if your teeth are locked together, they’ll feel it too.

Try This: Work on relaxing your jaw and keeping your muscles loose and your teeth apart. That can reduce the force your teeth feel with each step. And make sure your shoes aren’t worn out!

Sinus Problems

Sometimes when your teeth hurt, it doesn’t really have much to do with them at all. Occasionally, a sinus infection or other issue can be the cause of a toothache. Your sinuses sit right behind your cheeks, eyebrows, and jaw, and can cause pain when an issue arises. If you can treat sinus inflammation or infections, you may stop your teeth from hurting while you run or walk.

Other Oral Health Concerns

Sensitive teeth can be a symptom of a larger health issue, such as periodontal disease. As blood flow increases with your walking or running, it can exacerbate inflammation in your mouth, causing your teeth to hurt while you run.

If you are experiencing pain in your teeth while exercising (or for any other reason), be sure sure to talk to your dentist!

Ever wondered how to relax your jaw?

When you feel stressed, anxious or just generally on edge, your face tends to carry that tension.

So it’s no wonder that so many of us struggle with a stiff, tight jaw.

But rest assured, there are some quick ways to relax your jaw that require just a few minutes per day. And the beauty of this is that you don’t really need any special equipment or fancy workouts to get going.

In fact, all you really need is a mirror, consistency and time to begin quickly relaxing your jaw.

So below I’ve included a list of my favourite techniques, that you can try at home for yourself…


Useful: “Weird ” 2-Minute Exercises Heal TMJ Disorders & Tinnitus In As Little As 2 Days

Table of Contents

How To Relax Your Jaw In 5 Minutes Or Less…

Here’s a few exercises you can try at home to relax your jaw and reduce the tension in your face.

To make the most of these exercises, simply practice them daily for a few minutes at a time.

Whilst it might be tempting to over-practice these techniques at first, it’s important to just remain consistent and not over do it.

Overstretching your jaw could lead to more tension, so take it easy and gradually work your way up to more repetitions once you’ve got the hang of these exercises.

The TMJ Healing Plan For Jaw Pain may also help you – it gives you a step by step plan for finding and eliminating the causes of jaw pain.

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Last update on 2020-01-31

1. Smile

Try to smile as wide as you can, giving your jaw a good stretch whilst you do it.

Obviously don’t cause yourself any pain or uncomfortable feelings when you’re trying this!

Useful: “Weird ” 2-Minute Exercises Heal TMJ Disorders & Tinnitus In As Little As 2 Days

Breathe in through your mouth and exhale slowly through your mouth. Try this position for 5 times daily, and then gradually increase this to 10 if you can manage it.

So how will this help you?

Basically, this will relax and loosen your jaw. But the benefits don’t just stop there…

Practicing a wide smile in-front of the mirror will help you because:

  • It’s a quick way to relax your jaw
  • Smiling can trick your brain into boosting your mood
  • Smiling can relieve stress and tension from your whole body
  • Some studies have linked smiling to pain relief
  • Smiling loosens up your facial and jaw muscles

Fun Fact: If you smile, others smile! Science has proven smiles to be contagious!

2. The Jaw Relaxation Movement

Try opening and closing your mouth, stretching your jaw and warming up your facial muscles.

This one takes a bit of practice, so start slow and gradually move up to 10 repetitions per day.

There are also products like the Jawzrsize Jaw Exerciser that actually help you ease jaw pain and work the muscles in your jaw.

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Last update on 2020-01-31

3. Massage

Another way to relieve tension in your jaw is through massaging your jaw.

And whilst a professional could do it for you, you can try this yourself too!

If you want to learn more, check out the video below:

4. Head Movement

Rub your hands together to warm them up. Then place both hands on either side of your head.

This works because your jaw muscles stretch all the way up to the top of your head.

Simply take a deep inhalation in, and slide those warm hands all the way down your face. Practice this slowly, and focus on massaging your muscles all the way down your face.

5. Yoga

Yoga is a holistic approach to reducing tension and stress, not just from your jaw but your whole body as well.

So here’s a quick way to relax your jaw with yoga:

1. Sit down on lay down – you can use a chair, your bed for the floor for this

2. Take your hands and put the side of your neck, either side of your throat

3. Bend your fingers and apply pressure to the sides of your neck, going up and down your throat muscles all the way from the bottom of your neck up to your ears

4. Keep going for 1-2 minutes

Whilst you’re practicing this exercise, don’t be afraid to go deep into the muscles – as long as you feel comfortable.

Useful: “Weird ” 2-Minute Exercises Heal TMJ Disorders & Tinnitus In As Little As 2 Days

As you follow this exercise, you should feel the tension and stress melt away, as you massage your neck muscles and gently relax.

When you’ve practiced this exercise a few times, you’ll discover that massaging certain areas feels better than others.

So when you find the perfect spot, focus on it.

Tip: Did you know that science has proven yoga to be highly therapeutic, relaxing and can even improve the quality of your life?

Check out this study to find out more.

Useful Resource: 15 Beautiful Yoga Sayings That Will Inspire, Transform And Enhance Your Life

6. Change Your Diet

Diet has a tremendous impact on the way we feel, including our stress levels.

If our stress levels our high, we tend to feel more tension all over our body, including our jaw, face and eyes.

Not just that but certain foods work our jaw muscles more than others, creating more tension and even cramps in our jaw as the lactic acid builds up.

Depending on how bad your jaw tension is, you might want to consider really cutting down on the foods that require excessive chewing.

Try to avoid foods like:

  • Chewing gum
  • Chips
  • Tacos
  • Carrots
  • Beef jerky


Because these foods require a whole lot of chewing!

And if you’re still struggling, try cutting your foods into smaller, more easily digestible pieces to reduce the strain your jaw feels whilst eating.

You might find softer foods much more comfortable too, so try out:

  • Soft fruits like grapes
  • Recipes for mashes like mashed potatoes or squash
  • Yoghurt
  • Fish (baked salmon is a nutritious soft dish)
  • Soup

The great thing is, all of the above foods are healthy and delicious, so you don’t need to worry about having a boring diet.

Yes, you might have to make a few dietary sacrifices along the way but your health should always come first.

“Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body.”

– Matthew J. Kuchan, Ph.D

7. Sleep

All too often, we look to medicines and supplements as the best way to heal our bodies.

But high quality sleep is one of the best ways to heal ourselves.

And if you look at the deeper underlying causes of jaw tension, you can see why…

It’s basically caused by:

  • High stress levels
  • A lack of sleep
  • Irritability

Basically, if you’re feeling jaw tension, it’s often a sign that you’re not properly in sync with your body.

In fact, high cortisol levels are usually caused by working too much and sleeping too little.

So how you can improve your sleep?

  • Switch off all electronics 1 hour before you go to sleep
  • Establish regular, consistent sleeping times so that you’re body is in sync with your lifestyle
  • Avoid blue light or add a blue light filter to your phone and laptop
  • Use your bedroom as a ‘sleep only zone’, and avoid working or any strenuous activities in there
  • Make sure you sleep 8 hours a night
  • Go to sleep earlier – your body naturally feels more energised if you fall asleep before 12am

Fact: 15-20% of people diagnosed with insomnia will develop major depression.

8. Use A Mouth Guard

Quite often, jaw tension happens when we grind our teeth at night…

This is known as Bruxism, and it’s more common than you think.

Apparently 8% of us grind our teeth at night.

But how can we stop doing something that happens when we’re totally unconscious?

Quite often, dentists recommend wearing a mouthguard at night to stop teeth grinding.

Some of the mouthguards you can find on Amazon even have a DIY moulding mechanism, where you can combine your mouth guard with heat to mould it to your mouth.

Whereas if you went to a dentist they’d typically charge $200 or more for a personalised custom mouth guard.

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But at what point should you start using a mouth guard? And how do you know if your jaw tension is serious enough to use one?

Here’s a few tips:

  • Have you ever chipped a tooth in your sleep?
  • Do you ever wake up with a headache?
  • Does your partner tell you they can hear you grinding your teeth at night?

These are all warning signs that you may need a mouth guard to protect your teeth.

Obviously, it’s not the sexiest bedroom item!

But if it helps you prevent headaches, chipped teeth and constant jaw tension, then it’s definitely worth the effort.

9. Avoid Caffeine

This is another healthy and quick way to relieve jaw pain that you might not already know about…

Caffeine, in the wrong quantities, is scientifically proven to increase stressand tension in your body, whilst disrupting your natural sleep patterns.

So it might be worth cutting out caffeine for a while, as you experiment with options for relieving tension from your jaw.

If you’re a keen coffee drinker, it’s better to gradually reduce your caffeine intake as your body gets used to it.

That way you’ll reduce your withdrawal symptoms.

Caffeine is a surprisingly common ingredient, included in coffee, coca cola, tea, chocolate and some popular powdered drinks, so be careful!

10. Hot Or Cold Press

Hot and cold presses can be very effective for managing muscle tension and relaxing your muscles.

So simply grab a towel, wet it under the tap and either wrap it with ice (if you want a cold press) or put it in the microwave for a minute (for a hot press).

Then apply it gently to your jaw muscles, 3-4 times per day.

Apply for several minutes and you should notice a relief in pain.

Or if you’re looking to heat your towel for longer, simply wrap it up in a heated hot water bottle.

One of the most popular hot/cold presses for jaw pain is the LotFancy Reusable Hot or Cold Gel-Pack.

Last update on 2020-01-31

Tip: I’ve used this technique not just for jaw tension but also for knee pain and other sports injuries. It’s a great hack for natural pain and tension relief!

11. Causes Of Jaw Discomfort

If you really want to permanently reduce the tension in your jaw, you need to look at the deeper underlying causes of your tension.

So why is it that we feel like we’re clenching our jaws really tight?

…Or to the point that we just feel tense and stiff on our face?

Here’s a few causes of a tight jaw:

  • Stress and anxiety: Whether it’s your job, your career or your family, stress is one of the biggest causes for jaw tension. Our bodies react strangely to too much stress – and jaw tension is a very common symptom.
  • Teeth clenching and grinding at night (usually whilst you sleep)
  • Too much chewing (chewing gum is a big cause here)
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
  • A recent knock to the jaw, causing bruising and tension for a few days
  • Toothache and gum disease – causing damage to your actual jawbone
  • Joint pains and arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Tetanus

So if you want to relieve jaw tension, try to think about prevention – not cure.

Because there’s such a broad range of causes for jaw tension, it’s always best to consult your doctor first before you start worrying about what the root cause might be.

Googling your symptoms might be tempting, but there’s so much misleading information out there that you should consult the help of a trained medical professional too.

If you’re proactive and solve the root causes of jaw tension, you’ll save a lot of time and pain trying to relieve it later down the line.

Fact: Did you know that 1 in 8 people suffer from TMJ?

12. Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation is something we all need more of in our lives.

And if you’re looking for quick ways to relax your jaw, you should definitely grab a handful and try them out for yourself.

I actually created this mega guide to relaxation techniques that I think you’ll find extremely useful.

So what sort of relaxation techniques would I personally recommend?

Here’s a few to choose from:

Meditation & Mindfulness: Meditation and mindfulness is just so empowering for your mind, body and soul. Highly recommended!

Yogic Relaxation: Yogic relaxation is a quick way to relax your whole body, including your jaw. Practice it daily and you will see a huge difference.

Practice Gratitude: Sometimes we have the world at our feet, and we don’t even realise it! Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to start relieving stress and enjoying the abundance we already have!

When you set time aside to relax, your body rewards you by producing endorphins.

These ‘feel good’ hormones make you feel relaxed, both spiritually and physically. Plus endorphins can even relieve pain and tension from your body.

How To Relax Your Jaw FAQs

How do I stop clenching my jaw?

If you want to stop clenching your jaw (also known as Bruxism) and avoid grinding your teeth at night, here’s some quick tips:

  • Use a night guard for your teeth
  • Reduce stress and tension by doing exercise
  • Take a warm, relaxing bath before bed
  • Gently massage your face
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Avoid chewing gum

Why do I have tension in my jaw?

A tight, tense jaw can have several causes including:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Chewing too much, especially on chewing gum
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which can damage your jaw and create tension
  • Osteoarthritis (OA) – this can damage your joints and although it’s fairly unusual, it can also affect your jaw
  • Tetanus can also cause lockjaw – causing tension and stress in your jaw

How can I relax my jaw and face?

If you’re wondering how to relax your jaw, check out 12 easy tips above including:

  • Smiling
  • Jaw Relaxation Movements
  • Gently massaging yourself
  • Practicing head movements and stretches
  • Yoga stretches for your jaw
  • Improve your diet and reduce foods that require heavy chewing
  • Get plenty of high quality sleep
  • Wear a mouth guard at night
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can cause inflammation
  • Use a hot/cold press on your face
  • Analyse the root causes of your tension and change your habits so that you can avoid these causes
  • Practice relaxation techniques (see our list above)

Why are my jaw muscles so tight?

One of the biggest reasons for muscle tension is stress or anxiety. Sometimes people tend to grind their teeth or clench their jaws under stressful situations. Such involuntary and subconscious actions over prolonged time cause jaw muscles to tighten up. Other medical reasons could include gum disease, tetanus, toothache, etc.

What helps jaw pain from clenching teeth?

In order to avoid clenching teeth, it is important to treat the root cause of jaw pain. Some measure includes:

– Applying ice to jaw muscles that are sore

– Avoid chewing gum

– Drink an adequate amount of water daily

– Sleep

– Massaging muscles around shoulders, neck, and face

How can I relax my jaw at night?

Follow some of these measures to relax jaw at night:

– Try to relax and let go of all negative emotions before bed

– Use a mouthguard

– When falling asleep, be aware of clenching your teeth and try to relax

– Taking a lukewarm bath before going to bed

Is TMJ serious?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is not a serious muscular disorder. It is basically the restricted movement of the mandibular and some noises coming from the temporomandibular joints. It is not a deadly disorder; however, it can have a negative impact on the quality of life. This is mainly because of unmanageable pain.

Does TMJ go away?

As TMJ is not a permanent problem, it can go away. Proper treatment and regular checkups can help cure TMJ. In some cases, it might be difficult to cure TMJ completely; however, the pain can be controlled. Some simple treatments include pain relief medications, following stress-relieving practices, jaw-resting, etc.

Do mouth guards really help TMJ?

A mouth guard used during the night can really help cure or control the pain caused due to TMJ. The function of the mouth guard is to realign your jaw during sleep, thereby releasing tension from the jaws. These guards help to keep your teeth separated and thus preventing clenching of teeth.

Useful Resources For Relaxing Your Jaw

Finally, I thought I’d list some more useful resources you may want to check out if you’re struggling with jaw tension.

If you want to relax your jaw, you need to relax your whole body and relieve your underlying stress.

And that’s exactly how these resources will help you.
So here goes:

The Best Selling Products For Jaw Pain On Amazon

Is Meditative Relaxation The Perfect Answer To Stress Relief?

Yogic Relaxation: The Ultimate Guide To Yoga Relaxation Techniques

15 Relaxation Techniques To Reduce Stress

15 Powerful Mantras For Peace That Will Inspire And Enhance Your Life

The Ultimate Guide To Stress Management

Disclaimer: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Jaw tension in migraine and other headache disorders

How much do they cost?

Dental charges vary enormously across the UK depending on whether your dentist is private or NHS. The charge for an appointment with your dentist and the splint is likely to be over £150 and may cost significantly more than this depending on the nature of your problem. The charges should be clear before you begin any dental treatment. If not, speak to your dentist or the receptionist.

Can I still take my medication and wear a splint?

There is no reason to stop medication because you are wearing an occlusal splint.

What is the evidence?

There is still relatively little research data available on the benefits or otherwise of wearing an occlusal splint for headaches and migraines.

Research funded by The Migraine Trust in 1989 examined about 40 people who experienced migraine at least twice per month and who reported that at least half of their attacks of head pain started on waking or soon afterwards. Participants recorded the details of each attack for a 10 week period before being fitted with an active occlusal splint or a placebo (which did not cover the teeth). These were worn at night for a further 10 weeks. Again the participants recorded the details of all their attacks. The results showed that the people who gained the most benefit were those who suffered from tension type headaches. For individuals who suffered from both migraine and tension type headaches it was the tension attacks which showed most reduction. For people who had migraine with aura the splints appeared to offer no reduction in attacks and those with migraine without aura there was a small reduction.

Is there anything else I can do about teeth grinding and jaw tension?

Teeth grinding and clenching your teeth in your sleep are often signs that you are feeling extra stress and so identifying and reducing your stress factors can help. Doing something to relax yourself before bedtime can reduce the tension in your muscles.

Paying more attention to your posture can also make a difference in releasing tension from tired muscles in your shoulders, neck and jaw. Try to make sure your jaw and neck are relaxed before you sleep and remember to check your posture during the day. Try to be aware if you find yourself clenching your jaw during stressful times in the day. Double check that there is a gap between your upper and lower jaw when your lips are closed.


Occlusal splints may be of benefit to you if you experience tension type headaches particularly if you wake up with a headache. If you think you do grind your teeth or clench your jaw when you are sleeping it might be worth visiting your dentist to discuss the options of having a splint made for you.

Useful Contacts

  • British Dental Health Foundation, Smile House, 2 East Union Street, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV22 6AJ. Dental Helpline: 0845 063 1188 (local call rate in the UK). Website:

Detecting a different kind of jaw pain

Many of the common signs of heart attack are well known: tightness or pressure in the chest, discomfort in the arms and shoulders, shortness of breath. There’s another to add to the mix, one that may not prompt an immediate 911 call or trip to the ER: jaw pain.

“Sometimes the manifestation of a heart attack or some cardiac event can be felt in the jaws, the teeth and the neck. It’s not just the left side; it can happen on the right side, too, especially for females,” says Dr. Steven Bender, clinical assistant professor and director of the Center for Facial Pain and Sleep Medicine at Texas A&M College of Dentistry. “The pain is a sign. It’s an indicator that something is happening right then, right in that moment. It may come and go depending on the severity, just like people who say ‘I thought it was heartburn,’ and it comes and goes. It’s the same thing with the jaw pain. It may come and go, and people may not attribute it to a cardiac event.”

The head, neck and jaw pain experienced during a cardiac event is different than the chronic pain experienced by many of Bender’s patients, who often suffer from temporomandibular joint disorders. Patients with TMD typically can put their finger on the exact area that hurts, whether it’s the jaw, the jaw joint or the side of the head, and the pain often flares up when yawning or chewing.

“If it’s a cardiac event, they won’t notice those factors. It’s going to be more of a diffuse pain, and it will be hard to identify the exact location,” Bender says. The pain can get so intense that it wakes people from sleep. While TMD doesn’t often have this effect, a toothache can. So what’s another way to discern when you have a potential emergency on your hands? Assessing jaw pain in combination with other symptoms.

“They are going to feel flushing or experience perspiration, and they’ll notice that walking up a flight of stairs or physical activity may make it worse,” Bender explains. “They may feel more of a pulsating pain as compared to a deep ache.” And then there’s dizziness, confusion — some of the typical signs of a cardiac event.

Dr. George Feghali, general and interventional cardiologist at the Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, takes it one step further. It’s not just about jaw pain combined with other symptoms, but jaw pain coupled with risk.

“I never encounter a patient who comes to see me who says, ‘I’m having jaw pain,’ without any other symptoms. They should have risk factors,” Feghali explains. “For instance, if I have a young lady come to see me without any other risk factors — diabetes, hypertension, smoking, family risk factors — this is less likely to be the heart. If I have someone who is a big smoker, diabetic, who comes to see me because every time he walks around he gets chest pain and jaw pain, ruling out heart disease is an important step.” In such situations, cardiologists have stress tests and other diagnostic tools at their disposal.

“You always have to put it into context with risk factors,” Feghali adds.

Just like with every clinic at the dental school, appointments at the pain and sleep center involve taking a patient’s blood pressure. When the monitor indicates arrhythmia — an irregular heartbeat — or when patients describe palpitations, Bender refers them to a cardiologist.

Aside from referrals, Feghali describes dentists’ most direct role with patient cardiac health: “Prior to vascular surgeries or other surgeries that involve putting foreign bodies in the heart, you need to make sure the teeth are completely taken care of.” On the other end of the spectrum, it’s also quite common for dentists who work with his patients to seek his opinion on whether certain antibiotics may be necessary prior to dental work.

It’s a two-way collaboration, he explains.

“Taking care of the patient as a whole, that would include working with a dentist and a dentist working with the cardiologist, and working with a lot of other specialties to make sure the patient is doing well.”

— Jennifer Fuentes

Jaw Swelling

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if your symptoms of jaw swelling or those of someone you are with, are accompanied by sudden swelling of the face, lips or tongue; a rash; or respiratory or breathing problems such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, wheezing, not breathing, or choking, as these may be signs of a severe allergic reaction. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, develop a high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) and painful swelling of the jaws, as your symptoms may be related to mumps, a serious viral disease, or another serious infection.

If you have a firm, inexplicable lump on the jaw or if your jaw swelling is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

What other symptoms might occur with jaw swelling?

Jaw swelling may accompany other symptoms which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Skin symptoms that may occur along with jaw swelling

Jaw swelling may accompany other symptoms affecting the skin including:

  • Bleeding or bruising

  • Bumps

  • Dental pain

  • Hives

  • Itchy, oily or dry skin

  • Rash

  • Redness or warmth

Other symptoms that may occur along with jaw swelling

Jaw swelling may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:

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  • Fever

  • Itchy eyes

  • Pain in other parts of the face or the teeth

  • Sneezing

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, jaw swelling may be a symptom of a life-threatening condition such as a severe allergic reaction or infection that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • High fever (higher that 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Respiratory or breathing problems such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, wheezing, not breathing, or choking

  • Sudden swelling of the face, lips or tongue

What causes jaw swelling?

Jaw swelling is often caused by underlying issues with the teeth, such as dental caries or a tooth abscess, or following dental and oral surgery procedures like wisdom teeth removal. Jaw swelling can also arise from dermatological (skin) conditions, such as excessive oil accumulation, which can lead to acne; a cyst (a benign sac that contains fluid, air, or other materials); skin infections; or skin growths, such as keloids, which develop when scars form excess tissue. Other causes of jaw swelling include recent surgery or injury.

Adjacent to the jaw are lymph nodes and the parotid gland, a salivary gland. Enlargement of these structures, for whatever reason, will lead to jaw swelling. Inflammation, infection, and cancer are often responsible.

In some cases, jaw swelling can be a symptom of a serious allergic reaction that should be immediately evaluated in a medical setting. If swelling is painful and you are having difficulty chewing, the symptoms may be due to mumps, a serious viral infection. In very rare cases, jaw swelling may be directly due to cancer of the jaw.

Dental causes of jaw swelling

Jaw swelling may be caused by an underlying issue with the teeth including:

  • Dental caries
  • Following dental or oral surgery procedures
  • Growth of wisdom teeth and their extraction
  • Growth of wisdom teeth
  • Jaw cyst (a benign sac that contains fluid, air, or other materials)
  • Tooth abscess
  • Tooth or jaw infection

Dermatological causes of jaw swelling

Jaw swelling can also be caused by skin problems including:

  • Acne
  • Boils
  • Cellulitis (a common bacterial skin infection)
  • Infection
  • Ingrown hairs
  • Keloids (excess scar tissue)
  • Rosacea (chronic redness of the skin)
  • Sebaceous cysts (a benign sac under the skin that contains a white, oily material)
  • Seborrhea (common red, itchy rash with white scales)

Other causes of jaw swelling

Jaw swelling can also occur due to other causes including:

  • Burns
  • Hereditary angioedema (a serious genetic disorder that causes periodic swelling of the throat and other areas)
  • Jaw injury or trauma
  • Jaw surgery
  • Lymph node enlargement (right in front of ear)
  • Malnutrition
  • Mumps (a viral infection of the salivary glands in the neck)
  • Side effects to medications such as antibiotics or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Weight gain or obesity

Serious or life-threatening causes of jaw swelling

In some cases, jaw swelling may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction)
  • Angioedema (a severe swelling beneath the skin that can cause breathing difficulty)
  • Cancer of the jaw

Questions for diagnosing the cause of jaw swelling

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your jaw swelling including:

  • How long has your jaw been swollen?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Have you had jaw surgery or a jaw injury recently?
  • How painful is your jaw swelling?
  • What improves or worsens your jaw swelling?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • What other symptoms do you have?

What are the potential complications of jaw swelling?

Jaw swelling is generally not life threatening and can be treated with over-the-counter medications or home remedies such as cold compresses. In more serious cases, medical treatment is usually effective at removing the cause of jaw swelling. Because jaw swelling can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing
  • Pain that does not respond to treatment (intractable pain)
  • Permanent damage to the jaw
  • Severe breathing problems
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection

Jaw pain neck pain

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