Can You Totally Relax Your Jaw?

Feb 04, 2015, by Dr. Becky Coats

Let’s try an exercise. Let your arms fall slack to your lap. They should be completely limp, the way you might if you were pretending to be a puppet and letting someone else move your arms.

Now try to do the same thing with your jaw. It’s not the same, is it? Although we can find a resting position for our jaw, it’s hard to find the same kind of completely slack position for our jaw the way we can with our arms. And many people with TMJ just can’t find a truly relaxed position for their jaw.

A Complex Configuration of Muscles

Relaxing your jaw with TMJThe reason why you can’t relax your jaw the same way you can with your arm is that your jaw is in the center of a much more complex configuration of muscles than in your arms. Where your arms have simple joints that are flexed by a relatively small number of muscles, your jaw has a complex configuration of muscles that have to work together in sync to perform a wider range of motions than other joints in the body, and the muscles have to perform them at both joints simultaneously.

In order to accomplish this, muscles are bound together in unique relationships where they have to negotiate their rest position. A certain position contracts one muscle or pair of muscles, but requires that others be tensed. When you try to relax your jaw the way you do your arms, you tend to relax some muscles but tense others. You can’t let your jaw hang totally limp for someone to play marionette, although for some people, it may be close enough that you can’t tell the difference.

How Tense Is Your Jaw?

If you’re one of the people who can put your jaw in a pretty relaxed position, you may not think this is a big deal, but if you’re one of the people who is trying to find a relaxed position for your jaw, but all you find is different tense ones, this may be a sign that you could benefit from TMJ treatment'. Whether you have noticed other symptoms of TMJ like jaw pain and bruxism or not, the inability to relax your jaw should serve as a warning that you either have or at risk for TMJ.

We can help your jaw relax, find out its position of maximum rest, and help you avoid tension that can transfer from your jaw to other muscles, resulting in headaches, neck pain, and back pain.

To learn more about relieving jaw tension, please call (817) 481-6888 for an appointment with a Dallas TMJ dentist at Grape Vine Dental Care.