8 common symptoms of Jaw Problems
- Clicking when opening or closing the mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide
- Pain with eating (especially hard foods like apples)
- Episodes when the jaw becomes locked
- Pain in or near the front of the ear
- Neck pain
- Fear of meal times
The most used joint in the body?
Believe it or not, the joints which make of the jaw are one of, if not, the most commonly used joints in the entire human body. Have a think about it for a second, every time you eat or speak you are using your jaw. Even whilst curling a dumbbell, your jaw is likely to be engaged in some capacity as you strain to defeat that last repetition. Nevertheless, the jaw receives very little attention when it comes to issues relating to it. As a populous, we are simply unware of the signs and symptoms of jaw dysfunction (formally known as or temporomandibular dysfunction or TMD for short).
What is the link between jaw problems and stress?
Mechanically speaking, stress subconsciously causes us to clench more frequently than usual, which creates more pressure within the jaw (or temporomandibular joints). Over time, this leads to poor control of the muscles which are responsible for opening and closing the mouth. If left unchecked, our brain (which controls theses muscles) loses its ability to remember the correct position and movement of the jaw. Combined with the physical effects that stress has on our posture, as well as the muscles in the neck and shoulders, we have a concoction for catastrophe.
Simply put, the more stressed you are, the more likely you will develop jaw problems. In all my years of treating jaw dysfunction, the single greatest link my patients share is an elevated level of stress (and sometimes even anxiety). Obviously stress is unavoidable in life, and we all experience varying degrees of it. However, it is these elevated levels of stress which are responsible for a large proportion of the facial pain and jaw dysfunction my patients experience.