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Posted on February 1, 2021
A couple of months ago, we posted about how grinding has been causing problems for a lot of patients. Surprising to perhaps no one, this trend has not let up. I’m seeing more patients every day complaining of jaw pain, headaches, and sore teeth. There are so many ways to relieve that pain, but what can you do to feel better right now? Massage does wonders to relieve pain and tension in your jaw! Keep reading for tips on how to relieve TMJ pain with massage.
Before you can massage your jaw muscles effectively, you need to know where they are and what they do! Here are the three main areas to focus on:
So now that you know where to focus, let’s discuss a general foundation to understand effective massage. We are looking for firm and relaxing pressure. Think of a handshake or a hug: not enough pressure, what was the point; too much pressure and you’re left wishing you’d gone for a fist bump instead.
Massage should create a sensation of pleasant release and may even cause some mild tenderness. That tenderness should always decrease as you work. Most importantly, massage should never cause intense or sharp pain, and should never cause pain to increase.
Massage is most effective on warm muscles. You can apply a warm compress to get some blood flow to the area. I also recommend some gentle warm-up exercises to get the blood flowing and soften the muscles. Here are a few suggestions:
Okay, so we know what muscles we’re working, and we know how to get them prepped for some relief. Now what?
This link has a great step-by-step guide with useful photos to address each of these three main muscle groups. Basically, what you will do is find each of these muscles and gently let your fingers sit on the skin as you clench and release until you find areas where the muscles are tender or seem to bulge the most. Relax the jaw, then press into these areas for about ten seconds. Remember, firm, pleasant pressure. Then repeat for another area of the same muscle until it feels a little less tense.
When you address the temporalis, be sure never to put pressure directly on the temple. Go just above, below, in front or behind. But that tender spot right in the middle of the depression should be avoided.
Try to relax and engage the muscles as you apply pressure. I find a very small circular or sweeping motions sometimes help, but for trigger-point release, holding pressure on one spot for a few seconds can also work.
Here at Lake Baldwin Dental, we want you to enjoy your best possible pain-free dental health. Taking care of your TMJ is an essential step. If you might be clenching or grinding, let your dental health team know about it. We will do our best to get you out of pain as fast as possible. Keep smiling, Orlando!
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