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Clenching...can I get the jaw muscles to relax?

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Old 03-25-2009, 09:01 AM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2009
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ckjm HB User
Clenching...can I get the jaw muscles to relax?

Long story short...
Broken jaw in 2006, wired shut for 4 weeks, displaced joint, jaw lavage....terrible problems with clenching and grinding and having a really rough time trying to retrain the muscles to relax.

I have finally gotten to the point where I can eat without the constant popping and the was the left side where the disc was displaced, but after all has been said and done, I can not sleep without grinding and clenching.

I have a mouth guard that helps protect the teeth, but almost seems to exaggerate the pain as when it's "in" my mouth, I tend to clench down on it even more (?) I take a mild muscle relaxer almost every night to try and combat the tension, but it is wearing out and not helping like I thought it used to.
I even woke up my husband because I was grinding so loud last night.
Work, and life in general, is extra stressful right now, so that is not helping, so I wake up with my entire mouth in pain and by the end of the day, I am dizzy in a fog and just my entire head hurts.

Does anyone have any helpful experience or advise on getting the muscles around the jaw to relax? I never clenched or grinded my teeth at night before my broken jaw incident..... I know it's going to be a lifetime issue due to the problems incurred, but any relief short of getting a massage every night, would be nice. (I wish I could get a massage every night )

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Old 03-25-2009, 07:59 PM   #2
Snoop Dogg
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Re: Clenching...can I get the jaw muscles to relax?

Have you tried massaging your own face? You can either get some oils, or moisturiser, or simply use soap while in the shower, and gently massage your temples, cheeks down to your chin, and as much of your neck and shoulders as you can reach.

Hot or cold packs are good whenever you feel a headache coming on, or if a certain part is aching. Another option that I'm newly trying myself is TENS. Transcutaneous (I think) Electrical Nerve Stimulator. It worked wonders on my neck a couple of weeks ago when I could barely turn my head.

Also, pay close attention to yourself during the day and see if you can catch yourself clenching or grinding. I've found that if you can break the habit (which you may not have even realised that you had) during the day, you may automatically be able help stop it at night.

Good Luck!!!

Old 08-25-2011, 12:38 PM   #3
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Re: Clenching...can I get the jaw muscles to relax?

Relaxing your jaw muscles when you suffer from excessive clenching at night is easier said than done. I tried mild muscle relaxers and they did nothing to help. A splint/nightguard will only protect your teeth, it will NOT stop you clenching. Therefore, a splint does nothing for your jaw muscles. The only thing I have found that actually works for me is Lorazepam. It's a mild sedative (I take .10mg at night and .5 mg in the afternoon). It is very safe, easy on the stomach, and has virtually no side effects. I've only been taking it for 2 weeks, but my physical therapist is amazed at how much it's reduced the tension in my masseter muscles.

Old 09-01-2011, 04:40 PM   #4
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judye HB Userjudye HB Userjudye HB Userjudye HB Userjudye HB User
Re: Clenching...can I get the jaw muscles to relax?

Hi there,

I'm so sorry to hear you've been having such a difficult time...I wanted to share with you a bit of my experience as I have had really excruciating head pain from TMJ that has been greatly increased by grinding, so this has been a big issue for me too.

Three things have helped me...

First, I got rid of my night-time night guard. I bravely did this against the advice of several healthcare professional who just assume (wrongly) that a night guard can only help clenching for every person on earth 100% of the time. The truth is that we are all individuals and there are always exceptions. So here is how I came to realize my night guard wasn't helping me. I had a new one made and my NM dentist asked me not to use my old one for a few weeks. During this time, I had a decrease in daytime pain. Once the new nightguard was made I wore it for over a month and the severity of pain increased. I also knew that my body did not respond well to this foreign intrusion. For me it's like putting a stick into an animals mouth - my instinctive response while sleeping is to chomp and gnarl on this foreign object and this I can't control. It's just my own idiosyncratic response. Now that said, I know most people respond really well to night guard and they are a true saving grace to many. Just not me. You may or may not be the same. Perhaps you could do a test of some time without a night guard to see if your pain goes down. Also, explore your relationship to clenching both with and without your night guard. Notice your jaw/mouth position the first moment of consciousness (if you wake up at night or first thing upon waking in the morning). Are you as angrily clamped down on your teeth as you are on the night guard? Do you have a (very kind) partner who would be willing to wake up in the middle of the night while you are sleeping to help assess your grinding both with and without the night guard?

Two, finally getting a repositional orthotic to give my jaw a resting place helped. One theory about night grinding is that it is the result of the jaw, in discomfort, seeking a place to rest while you are asleep. I don't know if a misaligned bite is an issue for you though.

I also saw a very reputable and effective hypnotist who was able to really help reduce night grinding. This helped immensely. Your brain is suggestible and can be retrained to stop this behaviour. It's simple science, but you do need to see someone good. (The first guy I went to see was a bit of a sham and didn't help at all, but the second was hugely effective. He gave me a recording I can play at night before bed to help as well)

Another theory about night grinding (a more psychological one) is that it is the brain dealing with anxiety - so you are literally chewing on issues while you sleep. I am sure that I was doing this as well so, for me, finding a better way to address things that were going on in my life and giving my brain permission to rest at night was really key. Seeing a good counsellor or a combination hypnotherapist/counsellor could help you work on both issues at the same time. My feeling is that if this is at play, no amount of drugs may help you stop grinding.

Anyhow I hope some of this may be helpful. Feel welcome to message me if you have any questions. Wishing you much luck!!


Old 09-22-2011, 02:47 PM   #5
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Mewkiss HB User
Re: Clenching...can I get the jaw muscles to relax?

@Bellamq, I just wanted to tell you that Ativan is not safe. Benzodiazepines are pretty nasty drugs and are highly addictive. Even on the low dose you are taking you will be physically addicted to it. You cannot, even if you wanted, just stop taking it. You could go into withdrawals. It takes several months to get off that stuff. I know this from personal experience with Klonopin which is the same class. I am glad it is helping you but please do not underestimate the problems this drug all benzos can cause you.

Old 09-23-2011, 04:31 PM   #6
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Re: Clenching...can I get the jaw muscles to relax?


I know that Ativan is not safe to take for an extended period. My doctor only let me take it for 4 weeks. However, in that 4 weeks, it prevented me from clenching at night and gave my masseter muscles a much needed rest. My muscles atrophied and the pain was much less. It is by no means a permanent solution but for some of us who began clenching in the first place due to stress.... it can break the habit.

When you excessively clench your teeth at night due to stress, it can throw your jaw muscles out of wack. Once they are in a state of hyperactivity, you CANNOT stop clenching because the muscle mass has increased throwing your jaw out of alignment, regardless of whether the stressful period has passed. Essentially, the damage is done. Ativan can help heal the muscle and cause it to atrophy. Once the muscle has atrophied, there is a good chance that you won't clench anymore.

I, personally, did not have withdrawals when I went off of Ativan. One of my best friends is a nurse, and she told me that taking .10mg of Ativan was like taking 1/8 of a valium.

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