Table of Contents
- Activities to Avoid or Change
- For Temporary Relief
- Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief
- Yoga Corner
In this post, you will find self-care strategies for relief from the pain in the lower molars. The focus here is on relieving the trigger point. If you’d like to read more about how people describe the pain or what activities create the pain, look at this other post.
Several different patterns can create pain in the lower teeth and upper molars. Accordingly, they are the referral of other trigger points. If you haven’t already, check out this list of trigger point referral patterns that create pain and sensitivity in teeth.
You should avoid vigorous, uneven, or unusual jaw activity, like crunching ice, busting popcorn kernels, or chewing on toothpicks. Taffy and excessive gum chewing are also problematic.
The Night Splint
Sometimes, this pain is a result of clenching during sleep. In that case, mouthguards are a great temporary solution. But, in the long term, people should not need the guards when the TMJ is balanced. Integrative Bodywork has freed many of my clients from the night splint.
Clenching while Straining
Clenching during weight-lifting or heavy work should be consciously noted. And then, avoided. Again, a mouthguard can be used as a reminder if the clenching continues involuntarily.
For Temporary Relief:
Applying a little gentle pressure while opening your mouth to stretch can offer great relief here. I’ve done this many times when this pain pattern is bothering me. Here’s how….
Finding the spot
Feel for the corner of your jaw. Between the corner of the jaw and the last tooth, where the green asterisks (see illustration) are, you will find tenderness. Gently apply a small amount of pressure. After a few seconds, the area will begin to soften and become less tender. Open your jaw as the tenderness releases.
However, don’t be too aggressive with the pressure or the stretch, as you may aggravate the pain instead and actually make it a bit more intense. If that happens, try the stretches below. In fact, stretching before and after pressing into this spot helps, especially when you use ice.
These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or not responding to these simple suggestions.
Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:
Ice-and-Stretch your TMJ.
The following is a simple process for stretching your TMJ. It only takes a few minutes and can make a huge difference in head, neck, and jaw pain. Used daily, it can help with long-term changes.
For more complete, longer-lasting relief, precede this by stretching the upper neck with The Box. The upper neck provides a stable base for the TMJ. Additionally, upper cervical imbalances perpetuate TMJ problems.
See your Dentist
Tooth pain can be an indicator of something more serious. Therefore, check with your dentist. I’ve relieved many tooth pain patterns on myself and others with trigger point work. Still, a visit to the dentist is a responsible step afterward. Some people get trigger point work to relieve pain that occurred after a dental visit. Other people have already exhausted the capabilities of their dentist and are turning to trigger point work for relief. Regardless, if you have tooth pain, you should check with your dentist, even if you find relief from this trigger point work.
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First, Get Your Head on Straight
Your first yoga line of defense against a painful TMJ is to focus on poses that better balance your head on your neck. These poses offer stretching and strengthening of the neck. This process involves poses where you twist or tilt, like Warrior II. Also, strengthen your neck with poses that suspend it in space, like planks.
Then, Focus Your Efforts
This post from yogainternational.com has some neck-balancing poses and a series of jaw-dropping poses. I feel happier, sillier, like a little bird, better just looking at the pics. But, seriously, this series is more intense than this pic suggests. Its reasonably rigorous approach includes neck stretches using a strap and exercises while supporting your neck with a roll yoga mat. It’s worth taking a look.
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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.
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