If you are feeling pain in your jaw, you may be having a muscle spasm. A muscle spasm can occur anywhere in the body and is defined as an involuntary contraction of a muscle. A jaw muscle spasm can occur if the jaw is overstretched or held in the same position for a long period of time. If you have persistent jaw muscle spasms, you may be diagnosed with a disorder of the temporomandibular joint and muscle, called TMJ. Most TMJ symptoms, though, are temporary and do not worsen. Health professionals recommend non-surgical, reversible treatments for TMJ disorders.
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Things you need
- Soft foods
- Ice pack
- Health care provider
- Pain medications
- Stabilisation splint
Eat soft foods so your jaw does not tire out from chewing, as recommended by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Apply an ice pack to reduce the pain when you feel like you are having a jaw muscle spasm.
Avoid extreme jaw movements such as opening wide for a long period of time. For example, when you are at the dentist, try to close your mouth every so often so you don't strain your jaw. Also, avoid excessive gum chewing.
Do some gentle jaw stretches and jaw relaxation exercises. A physical therapist or physician may be able to suggest appropriate exercises for you to do.
To alleviate the jaw pain, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen. If recommended by your dentist or physician, you may need to be prescribed a muscle relaxant or stronger pain medication for your symptoms.
Wear a stabilisation splint. Your dentist or doctor may recommend that you wear this appliance. A stabilisation splint is a guard that fits over your teeth and should be used only temporarily. According to the NIDCR, it is the most common treatment for TMJ disorders.
Tips and warnings
- According to NIDCR, TMJ disorders are connected to a number of symptoms, including pain in the face, neck or jaw; jaw stiffness; locking of the jaw; and painful popping when opening or closing the mouth.
- Tell your doctor or dentist if the pain continues. The recommended treatments should be used for temporary pain relief.
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