Check-out your jaw action before you face a pain or bite problem. You can use a mirror to assess yourself. It’s a good idea to ask a family member or friend to help you observe your jaw position and movement. Here’s a list of what to look for:
1 Slowly open your mouth as wide as possible. It should open 2-3 inches without pain.
2 Push your jawbone forward and pull it back several times. If there is pain or popping sounds you have a jaw problem.
3 Very slowly open your mouth as wide as possible. You have jaw problems if your mandible (jawbone)
slides to one side
slides back and forth as you open or close your mouth
if you hear popping sounds (crepitation)
4 Look in the mirror. You have bite problems if your jaw protrudes forward.
5 Look in the mirror. You have bite problems if your jaw retrudes backward.
6 Close your mouth with all your teeth touching. You have jaw problems if all of your teeth do not make contact.
7 When your jaw is closed does your jawbone slide to one side?
8 Slide your jawbone side to side. You have jaw problems if
your jawbone slides more easily to one side
your jawbone slides farther to one side
your jawbone drops downward when it slides to one side
Jaw problems are often caused by muscle problems. A qualified orthopedic massage therapist may be able to help you (before you undergo more expensive and more invasive procedures). You will likely improve your jaw position and mechanical action by strengthening certain jaw muscles while stretching others.
Your jaw muscles work in pairs and each pair must be balanced (equally strong and equally stretched). If the masseter is weak on one side and too strong on the other you will have problems. The other muscle pairs that must be in balance include the temporalis, the digastrics and the pterygoids.
Medical massage therapists who are trained to work with jaw problems can help you achieve good jaw mechanics..and that means protecting your teeth from abnormal wear and tear…and protecting you from future pain.