Updated: Aug 27
Everything You Need to Know whether you have TMJ issues, are recovering from Bell's Palsy, a Stroke, or just hold tension in your jaw.
In fact, I am wondering if trigger points in my jaw and around my ear (related) were not part of what set up the perfect storm of already tight or compressed areas for when a virus created inflammation and damaged the 7th cranial nerve that passes through this area causing my face to fall and function to disappear.
You do not have to suffer needlessly. There are several ways to take relief into your own hands.
Muscles of the Jaw
The Masseter, Pterygoid, Buccinator and Temporalis are the main muscles to consider.
Together they exert the force necessary for biting and chewing but also cause an incredible amount of other issues when they have trigger points.
Masseter trigger points can cause pain in the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), increase tension in the vocal mechanism, pain in both the upper and lower teeth, hypersensitive teeth to hot and cold, sinusitis type pain and drainage, bags under the eyes, pain or itchiness deep in the ear, and a sense of stuffiness or sound such as low roaring or tinnitus.
Temporalis trigger points contribute to headaches in the front and sides of the head. They also can cause pain and hypersensitivity in the upper teeth. Diffuse pain in the upper jaw when you chew or bite down. Your teeth may feel like they don't fit together right. And create general jaw tension.
Buccinator trigger points cause pain in the upper gums that can be misinterpreted as tooth decay or an abscess. They can cause diffuse pain on chewing and swallowing. And prevent the corners of the mouth from drawing back for facial expressions.
Pterygoid trigger points (not shown) can cause both TMJ and ear pain which increases when you bit down. They can make it difficult to open the mouth wide. Cause ear stuffiness. The lateral pterygoid is the #1 source of pain and dysfunction of the TMJ. They can mimic sinus pain and stimulate sinus secretions. And along with masseter and SCM trigger points can cause tinnitus.
The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies is an excellent resource I have been using for around 20 years to augment my yoga classes.
Trigger points in your jaw are typically caused by repeated or chronic muscle overload (often from clenching your teeth in response to stress or grinding your teeth at night), but can also arise following trauma (eg a fall or impact where you hit your jaw or head).
They can also occur from extensive dental work and complications arising from long standing Bell's Palsy.
We can also store all of the times throughout each day that we never spoke up, or the times when held back an emotion or failed to set a boundary. All opportunities to express what we needed to but did not. So you may also feel some of things as you release what has been storing up.
Massaging can be extremally painful when these muscles are afflicted with trigger points.
But I will show the kindest way to do so using a stress ball or soft foam therapy ball.
Don't let discomfort make you give up. Work on them everyday until massaging no longer hurts.
You may experience soreness the next day, which indicates how badly the muscles need he attention.
A quick, simple and effective exercise to release jaw tension is called the Temporalis Pull and takes mere moments to do. You can do this sitting at your desk or whenever you realize you are clenching.
This is also a sample of the video instruction I offer in my Bell's Palsy recovery programs.
Weakness can also set up an environment for contraction and trigger points. Creating support in the foundation below the jaw can make a huge difference. The platysma and other muscles of the neck enmesh with the muscles of the jaw. They are connected and affect each other.
I suggest this exercise that only takes 3 min once you know how to do it.
You can go a long way toward preventing trouble with the jaw muscles by giving up gum chewing or biting your nails. Become mindful of when you clench your jaw when you are tense or under pressure and try to train yourself not to. All of these things should also help with stopping grinding your teeth at night as well.
If you are recovering from Bell's Palsy I offer extensive information, self treatment videos and mentoring. https://www.nikbalogh.com/bellspalsy
I also offer trigger point therapy videos for the most common areas of pain and stiffness in the body here: https://www.nikbalogh.com/therapy-ball-massage