Stress-or anxiety-induced teeth grinding and jaw clenching is a problem that is extremely common. We can go to our dentist and get prescribed a mouth guard that protects our teeth, but this doesn’t always solve the root of the cause. Many other issues may arise due clenching such as tension headaches, earaches, facial tension, dizziness, Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, and toothaches.
Known as bruxism, the problem of clenching your jaw originates in the masseter muscle. This muscle is the primary jaw muscle that resides between the cheekbone and back corner of the jaw. Pound for pound, the masseter muscle is (debatably) the strongest muscle in the human body when paired with its satellite muscles. It can generate upwards of 150 pounds of bite force. Like every muscle in the human body, the masseter muscle can be massaged, stretched, and treated to help relieve clenching.
Two great at home solutions for this are:
1. Daily Massage: Throughout the day, it is good practice to occasionally massage the muscle. To do so you can use your index finger and middle finger or thumb to feel for knots and apply pressure where needed. Either constant pressure or small, kneading circles work best around the cheekbone notch to relieve the most stress.
2. Daily Stretching: Consider all the ways throughout the day you exercise your mouth whether it be eating, talking, or chewing gum. You always want to stretch after working out and the same goes for the masseter muscle. A good way to do this is to put a cork in it, literally. Bite down on a cork long ways and hold that position for as long as you possibly can. This takes the tightly wound muscle and stretches it out to the point it will feel weird to bite down, but that’s okay! The stranger it feels to bite down, the less likely you will experience jaw grinding and teeth clenching.