"Is there a way to address this without using force, or surgery, or medications? Here are some things I’ve found helpful” -SH

TMJ/Bruxism: Jaw pain or malalignment and teeth grinding done usually at night

To soften the jaw muscles:

The jaw hangs from the skull, and the jaw muscles hold it up – otherwise, you’d walk around with a loose, open jaw. As we age, and perhaps stress accumulates, we forget how to relax those jaw muscles that are continually working. They can get very tight, and very resistant to stretching or relaxing.

Is there a way to address this without using force, or surgery, or medications? Here is one thing I’ve found helpful:

Exhale, let your jaw drop and relax (even if that is only 1/8 of an inch) as you say very softly “Aaahhh”.  The sound you make is so soft, that if I put my ear next to your mouth, I would only barely, maybe, be able to hear it. Relax the shoulders down as you exhale.

Use no force to exhale. Let the exhale and the inhale be totally natural.  If you make the sound too loud, or force the exhale (even slightly) you may get dizzy due to hyperventilation. There is an almost magical connection between the soft sub-vocal “Aaaahh” sound, the exhale, relaxing the jaw, and releasing stress throughout the body. When you take a large sigh, and feel really good, you’ll automatically make this “Aahh” sound. This can be done in sitting, standing, or lying down. If you are really uptight, you may find this puts you into a sleepy mode, within a few minutes or sooner. That’s good! It may help you sleep.

To summarize:

  • Exhale making the ultra-soft sub-vocal (whispered) sound of “Aaahhh”.
  • As you exhale drop and relax the shoulders and let the jaw soften, or perhaps drop a little.
  • Inhale normally, do not force it. Let the exhale also be totally unforced, easy.
  • Do this 10 or 20 seconds several times a day. You may like the results very much! Of course, several minutes a day would even better. But it is not how long, but how deeply you can impress your brain with the idea the jaw has permission to soften for a little while.
  • This is your secret weapon against jaw pain, TMJ and teeth grinding. Use it!


Isometric to release jaw tension and pain:

  • Place your softly clenched fists of both hands under your jaw. Open your mouth (drop you jaw) as you resist this movement with your fists.
  • This exercises the muscles that open the jaw. Usually we spend a lifetime exercising only the muscles that clench the jaw. It is only common sense, that if we have trouble, to balance out the muscles at least a little bit.
  • Do this as often as you like. It can be done most easily in sitting.
  • Experiment to see what gives you more relief – to push the jaw more against the right hand or the left hand? Invent variations, find what eases your pain or difficulty. Then do more of that. Maybe pushing the jaw down and to the right helps you the most. Or perhaps by sliding your lower jaw to the left before opening the mouth gives you good relief.
  • Continue and progress to more repetitions and stronger pushing, if there is not pain and it does indeed give you relief.
  • Of course, if there is more pain or discomfort, do not do this. See professional help.
  • It is also helpful to eat while keeping the lips closed, and opening the mouth wide before chewing down. This also exercises the open-the-jaw muscles.
  • The more you work and strengthen these muscles the more you release the jaw clenching muscles.  This process is called neurological inhibition.


Relaxing the jaw through awareness and movement:

Slowly explore the inside of your mouth with your tongue. Many people can touch all parts of the mouth cavity. If you find that you cannot, do not force it. Just explore your comfortable range, breathe easily, and in a few days (maybe a few weeks) you will have full range, and your jaw and tongue muscles will be softer.

Explore slow and soft movements of the lower jaw. Open the mouth slightly and move your lower jaw left and then right. Let the tongue first go with the jaw, then the opposite direction.

Make circles with the lower jaw.

Move the eyes left and the tongue and lower jaw go to the right. Then reverse.

There are many hours of creative explorations that are possible. 

© Copyright 2015 Steve Hamlin