Facial Pain: My aching jaw!

September 16 2023

Do you have TMJD?

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction can be quite painful. Common causes of jaw pain include clenching and grinding one’s teeth (think stress & anxiety!), overuse of the jaw muscles (Are you a gum chewer?), trauma to the jaw muscles or joint, and conditions like arthritis.

If you are experiencing acute jaw pain on the left side of your face and/or pain in the arms, back, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, nausea, sweating, or feeling faint, call 911 immediately. Jaw pain can be a symptom of heart attack in women.

Extreme tension and trigger points in muscles of the jaw (masseter, pterygoid, temporalis) can cause a variety of symptoms that include neck pain, trismus (pain when opening your mouth), ear pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo (dizziness).

Things you can do alleviate symptoms and hypertonic muscles include not chewing gum or hard foods, wear a mouthguard to ease the intensity of clench/grinding your teeth, massage your shoulder, neck and jaw, acupressure and acupuncture treatments, and stretches for your jaw and neck muscles. You can also use meditation and breathwork to help with managing underlying stress which is causing you to clench or grind your teeth.

Here are a couple of Manual Therapy suggestions for alleviating jaw tension:

Masseter Soft Tissue Mobilization

  • Clench jaw together with your fingers on your jaw muscles… feel the muscle contract and bulge into your fingers which are providing counter pressure.
  • Relax jaw and massage muscle front to back until muscle relaxes.

Isometric Jaw Stretch

  • Start with tongue up on the roof of the mouth and teeth slightly apart.
  • Place fist under the chin pushing upwards.
  • Activate muscles as if you are opening your jaw but your fist resists the motion.
  • Your fist and chin are pushing against each other. Your teeth are never touching.


Sadhana Health is not prescribing the exercises above. Please perform at your own discretion. If you are unsure if this activity is safe for you, please consult with your healthcare provider.