If you experience consistent headaches in your temples or wake up most days with jaw pain, then you may have bruxism. Bruxism is a condition where you frequently grind or clench your teeth. Some people are surprised to learn they do this, thinking they would notice if they grind their teeth. However, even if you don't grind or clench while awake, you might do it while you sleep.
An increasing number of people wear a nightguard to protect their teeth, but that doesn't address the root of the problem. This is tricky to cure, however, if teeth grinding is your body's natural reaction to tension and stress. But you don't have to despair, there are actions you can take to relax your jaw, including massage therapy treatment. A general massage will relax your body and ease your tension, but you can also get massage treatments specifically for pain relief, and that includes jaw pain due to bruxism. Here is how your massage therapist can help you treat your bruxism symptoms.
Teach You About Muscles
If your bruxism results in your temples aching, you may not experience the relief you need from simply rubbing them yourself. That's because you may not realize what other muscles in the face and neck are connected to your bruxism pain. Massage therapists are experts in the muscles and can teach you how tension in the masseter (the huge muscle in your cheek) can be contributing to pain in other areas, for example. They can teach you about specific trigger points, such as the notch in your cheekbone, which is a crucial spot to massage for tension relief. Knowing more about your muscles can help you be more aware of them during your day, which can help you determine when or where you clench or grind the most, identifying your sources of highest stress.
Massage to Encourage Blood Flow and Relaxation
The actual massage will definitely help improve your symptoms as well. Massage increases blood flow to the muscle that is being worked, and the blood brings nutrients and lowers the level of stress hormones. Lower stress levels may help you relax more and grind less. If your grinding or clenching is making your jaw muscles super sore, the blood flow to the area will speed up recovery as well. Massage can also improve joint mobility, loosening that stiff, tense jaw. Communicate with your therapist during the process so they know how to help you feel the most comfortable.
Show You Exercises to Do at Home
The benefits of a massage will only last so long since you are unlikely to completely rid your life of stressors. Your massage therapist will likely be able to show you some exercises that you can do between appointments to ease your soreness and relax the affected muscles. For example, they may show you to place your tongue on the front of your teeth and open your mouth as wide as you can without pain. They may demonstrate specific techniques of massaging your masseter so you know the movements that can relax the area right before bedtime. Your therapist can observe that you're doing it correctly before you leave so that you feel more confident and receive the most benefits.
You don't have to be stuck with your jaw and temple pain forever — massage therapy treatment can help! Contact a massage therapy center near you for more information.