6 Most Common Causes of Tightness in Your Jaw (and How to Treat It)
A strained jaw can lead to painful sensations and discomfort in different parts of your body. The type of painful sensations can differ and may be characterized as aching, pulsating, mild, or sharp. These sensations may intensify while eating or talking.
Keep reading to discover possible causes of tightness in your jaw and learn about appropriate options to treat it and avoid it in the future.
1. Stressful lifestyle
A stressful lifestyle and anxiety can often result in subconscious movements in your jaw like grinding your teeth while sleeping. You may also clench your teeth during the day without even noticing it. Such behavior can result in a strained jaw and painful sensations during day and night time. These sensations may intensify when you chew food or talk. A stressful lifestyle can lead to other problems, like a tension headache. Try to reduce the amount of stress in your life with meditation, relaxing to music, and spending more time with friends and family.
2. Temporomandibular disorder (or TMJ)
TMJ leads to painful sensations in your jaw. It can cause discomfort or tenderness in joints and muscles helping to move your jaw. These joints are situated between your bottom jaw and the temporal bone. TMJ can also lead to painful or throbbing sensations and discomfort in or around your ear, jawbone, and face. The pain may worsen when you eat. You may also hear a clicking sound or experience muscle spasms when eating. Consult top TMJ specialistto treat the problem. TMJ specialists can help you relieve the pain, protect your dental health, and treat the physical and mental culprits of your problem.
3. Teeth clenching (bruxism)
Bruxism is the subconscious clenching and gnashing of your teeth. Its main culprits are stressful lifestyle, inheritance, or dental issues like malocclusion of the teeth. Bruxism mainly occurs at night when you’re asleep. It can also happen during a day, though you may not notice any sign of it. Bruxism can cause strain or painful sensations in your face, neck, and upper or bottom jaw. It can also lead to pain in your head and ears. Consult a dental specialist and get a mouth guard to protect your teeth from damage at night.
4. Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder. It can affect muscles and joints all around your body. About 80% of people suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis also experience TMJ, which is among the most common causes of the strained jaw. In rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system damages your own body’s joints and tissues. This disorder impacts the lining of your joints, leading to aching swelling that can ultimately cause bone deterioration and joint deformation. Ask your doctor to recommend you prescription drugs to fight the symptoms of this condition.
Though it’s not very common for this condition to damage joints in the jaw. It can cause bone loss and problems with proper jaw cartilage, and tissue functions This can cause tightness and soreness in your jaw. It can also result in traveling pain to the neighboring body parts. Getting rid of excess weight, indulging in physical therapy, and getting proper medications can help to treat this problem.
Tetanus is a severe bacterial infection that can cause damage to your nervous system. Tetanus is characterized by abdominal rigidity, difficulties with swallowing, and aching muscular contractions in the jaw and neck. The Tdap vaccine helps treat this infection and has minimized the occurrence of tetanus considerably in Americans.
The bottom line
The tightness and painful sensations in your jaw can be caused by a variety of reasons like teeth grinding, TMJ, and a stressful lifestyle. You can treat your problem at home to achieve relief and prevent discomfort. The main solution is getting enough rest and reducing the amount of stress. Try to avoid consuming hard food and chewing gum for too long. Wearing a mouthguard at night may also help.