Jaw Muscle Tension
When a muscle is tight, it can cause pain, discomfort, and dysfunction at both rest and during movement. Muscle tightness can affect any part of the body, such as the arm, leg or back, but it can also affect the jaw, too. When muscle tightness does impact the jaw, you can be left with severe pain at rest or with use like chewing, biting, or yawning. Other uncomfortable and often unnerving symptoms include jaw stiffness, numbness, and clicking. But, don’t panic; Millennium Smiles in Frisco, Texas, can help!
What It Feels Like
As we said, jaw muscle tightness is uncomfortable. Some patients say their pain is a dull ache, while others say it’s more of a throbbing pain; still, others say that their jaw feels tender, and others may say their pain is severe and disabling.
Most patients living with jaw muscle tension also say their pain gets worse when they chew, speak, or yawn.
In addition to pain, jaw tension can also cause:
- Decreased range of motion when opening the mouth
- Clicking of the jaw with movement
- Locking of the jaw joint
What Causes Jaw Tension?
There are several causes behind jaw muscle tension:
- TMD. The primary cause is temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD or TMJD), a condition caused by dysfunction of the jaw joints, known as the temporomandibular joints. TMJD can cause pain in the jaw joints and surrounding muscles around them.
- In most cases, TMD affects the area near the ear, jaw, and face. These areas may feel tight and tender, throb, and ache. Chewing food may increase pain and cause a clicking sound or grinding sensation.
- Stress. Stress is another reason that can cause jaw tension. Why? Well, feelings of stress and anxiety can lead to you subconsciously clench your jaw or grind your teeth while you’re awake or asleep.
- Doing so can cause feelings of tightness in the jaw, and leave you in pain when you’re awake or asleep. This pain can get worse when you eat or talk. You may also have tension headaches as a result of your jaw clenching.
- Teeth grinding. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism can happen because of stress, dental problems such as misaligned teeth or tooth crowding, and even genetics! Teeth grinding usually occurs at night, but some people do it inadvertently when awake.
- Jaw tightness caused by bruxism can leave you with feelings of soreness in the face, neck, and upper and lower jaw. You may also experience ear pain and headaches.
- Chewing gum excessively. Did you know that chewing gum excessively (or chewing anything excessively) can cause jaw tightness in the muscles of the lower jaw?
- Arthritis. Both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) can cause muscle and joint pain – and affect the jaw. Researchers have shown that about 80 percent of those living with RA have TMD, and although rare, OA can affect the temporomandibular joints by causing deterioration and loss of function of the jaw bone, cartilage, and tissue. This can result in pain, stiffness, and jaw dysfunction.
What If You Are Experiencing Jaw Tension?
If you’re experience jaw tension or suspect you’re experiencing jaw tension or have symptoms like pain, stiffness, and discomfort in your jaw, it’s time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Korous at Millennium Smiles in Frisco, Texas. Schedule your consultation now at 972-468-8771.