Three Ways To Help Your Jaw Relax Before You Go To Sleep
If you have temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, you likely clench or grind your teeth and have tense jaw muscles. Even if you have a night guard, this can be a problem; the clenching can still give you sore jaw muscles when you wake up, and it's possible to bite through night guards if you keep grinding your teeth (that wears away the night guard material). One way to help reduce the clenching and grinding is to relax your jaw muscles before you go to sleep. You have to be consistent and do one of these nightly; doing them once won't make your jaw relax forever. Here are three options for you to try.
- Bend your index and middle fingers on both hands and place the knuckles against your jaw muscles. Do this on both sides of your jaw at the same time.
- Gently move your hands clockwise and counterclockwise (you can start with either one) so that the knuckles massage the jaw muscles in small circles. Do this until your jaw feels a little more relaxed.
- Place your knuckles at the tops of your jaw muscles and draw your hands downward toward your jawbone.
- Repeat both types of massage a couple of times. This should make your jaw relaxed enough so that you have less pain and soreness when you wake up.
Relaxing Herbal Teas
You may want to look for commercially prepared chamomile or catnip teas (yes, humans can have catnip tea; it's not just for cats). Both are known for their relaxing properties, and a cup of tea before bedtime might help your muscles relax enough so that you don't clench your jaw. The University of Maryland Medical Center says chamomile, catnip, and also lemon balm could be good remedies for stress, which can be a factor in TMJ flareups. Do not try to prepare homemade blends of herbs yourself because you may end up with too high of a dosage. Also, do not use these teas before you have to drive or do anything that requires alertness.
Timing and Life Changes
Because the clenching, grinding, and jaw tenseness associated with TMJ are often aggravated by, if not caused by, stressful life situations, you may need to look at what's happening in your life to cause the problem. Start keeping a diary of what your days have been like compared to how tense your jaw was before you went to sleep, and how sore it was when you woke up. If you find patterns, act to change those so that you can relax more.
If you want other relaxation tips that could help lessen your TMJ, talk to your dentist or whichever specialist is helping you with the disorder. You don't have to suffer with jaw tenseness and pain for the rest of your life.
To learn more, contact a dentist like Panther Hollow Dental Lodge.