What is TMJ? Why Does my Jaw Hurt with Wearing a Mask? Tips for Jaw Pain

All right, hey guys. What's up? It's Stephen Dunn with CORE Therapy and Pilates. I'm going to take my mask off so it's a little easier for you to hear and see what's going on...

Today I want to come on and talk a little bit about the jaw. The TMJ... another reason why I’m taking my mask off. One of the biggest complaints that I’m getting since we've been back reopened now for several months post shutting down is jaw pain as people are wearing masks.

People are wearing a mask pretty consistently, pretty frequently now and it's creating this situation where the mask is changing a little bit of the way we're holding our jaw. This change is causing tension in our face and neck.

I want to go over that real quick and talk a little bit about: 

What is the TMJ?

What's the problem? And how we can go about making some improvements?

The TMJ is here as we look at the skeleton, the skull here. I got a full skeleton behind me. The T stands for temporal. The M stands for mandible and J stands for joint... the tempomandibular joint. The temple is part of the skull, the mandible is the jaw coming through here and what happens when we talk... that joint moves right there. So that's the TMJ.

What I'm seeing with people that are wearing a mask is they're doing this with their face a little bit. They're opening their mouth and contracting their face muscles and they're jutting their chin out a little bit forward.


Image via Pixabay

So that's just one of the things that I've been seeing the last couple months. Well what happens when you do that is you start getting some really tight muscles that are inside your jaw, the medial and lateral pterygoids, those are muscles you can only get to inside of your mouth.

On the outside you have two muscles that get tight and they are easy to feel in the cheek area. One is called the buccinator... and one is the masseter and then this big muscle up through here when we clench our teeth is the temporalis.

So here, here, here and up inside are the main muscles that we are going to find to be in tightness and imbalanced.

We want to do a little bit of release work

The first things I'm going to show you is a tip. Take your knuckles and if you open your mouth just very gently and go right in between the layers of your teeth and just give a little bit of pressure.

For me. I'm wearing masks an hour at a time. Yesterday I had seven people so that I was wearing a mask for seven hours through the day. By the end of the day right through here is where I'm sore from talking and the way I'm positioning my mask and jaw... 

The mask that I’m wearing is the n95 and when I put my mask on it creates a suction cup. The way that I end up talking for some time, right here these muscles are tighter than they've ever been.

Again, one of the ways you can help work on that on your own is digging in right through there. Teeth and mouth slightly open and just giving a little bit of pressure. That's my tip today about the TMJ…

We’re seeing lots of TMD which is tempo-mandibular dysfunction going on right now and I'm also seeing this very common with my back pain patients. The low back is hurting and now all of a sudden there's something hurting up in their jaw that's a very new and sudden thing.

They're noticing jaw pain with talking, chewing, opening their mouth to take a bite… those kind of things.

If you're having any trouble with your jaw or back, then reach out and let us know.

We'd love to get you in and take a look at that jaw. We can determine if we can help you as it is something we've been working with for many, many years. It's just a little bit of a spike in that incidence right now with the TMJ issues.

That's my message today guys, thanks for hopping on... you got any questions or comments put them below and we hope see you soon around the studio or virtually.

Bye now!