If you’re one of the millions of people who wake up every morning to an inexplicably stiff jaw, tense neck and dull headache, you’ll be pleased to know that you don’t have to put up with it any more.
Jaw ache is a common complaint and can cause a multitude of radiating side effects including muscle tension, ear ache and even migraines. To get to the bottom of the issue and find out exactly what can be done to relief any pain, we’ve called upon the expertise of celebrity dentist Dr Richard Marques.
So, why does my jaw ache so much?
“Teeth grinding and clenching are usually the main causes of jaw ache, and both often occur during sleep or when someone is under stress,” explains Dr Marques. But aside from those issues, jaw ache can also be caused by more urgent dental problems such as cavities, abscesses or gum disease. “Even though these issues don’t directly affect the jaw, the mouth pain can transcend to the jaw area, and it’s really important to get them checked out by a dentist promptly.”
What are the long term side effects of grinding?
While you may not consider teeth grinding to be particularly bothersome, especially as the majority of us only grind when we’re asleep, it can lead to further issues in the long term. “Ongoing grinding can cause sensitivity and weakening of the tooth structure, as well as cracks and breakages. Further consequences can come in the form of muscular pain in the neck and shoulders and even headaches.”
How do I get rid of my jaw ache?
According to Dr Marques, the best way to treat jaw pain and stop teeth grinding is to use a mouthguard, particularly at night. “This protects the teeth and positions the jaw properly,” he explains.
“Acupuncture can also be used as a method to alleviate grinding, as it relaxes the muscles. Hypnosis is another way to stop grinding by working on the subconscious mind to prevent the habit of grinding.”
Another treatment for more serious grinders is to use Botox along the jaw to relax the muscles and physically prevent tension for up to eight months.
Or, if you suspect that the grinding is most likely related to stress, visit your GP or confide in a friend for help in managing your stress levels.