Let’s do an experiment. Lie down on your back. Completely relax your arms so that someone could move your arms as if you were a puppet. Now do the same with your legs. It’s easy to make our limbs relax like this, but now try it with your jaw.
It’s not the same, is it? Your jaw doesn’t get slack in the same way your arms and legs can, and for some people the inability to relax the jaw is so severe that it results in ongoing jaw pain and other symptoms of TMJ.
A Complex Configuration of Muscles
Part of the reason why your jaw doesn’t relax the same way your arms do is that the muscles in your jaw have a much more complex configuration of muscles that work together. When moving some of these muscles into a relaxed configuration, it means tensing and stretching complementary muscles.
Just like the motions of the jaw are unique, so are the muscles of the jaw, which are in a more complex configuration that muscle groups in other places in the body. This makes finding a position of maximum rest for your jaw much more complicated than finding it for your arms and legs.
Negotiating a Position of Maximum Rest
Although it’s impossible to put your jaw in a position where all of the muscles are completely slack, there are positions where your muscles are more relaxed as a whole than others. The muscles can work together to find a compromise position where they are all relaxed enough that they’re not tense, sore, or in pain.
Sometimes, your muscles can’t find this compromise position on their own, and that’s where a neuromuscular dentist can help. A neuromuscular dentist can help you find your jaw’s position of maximum rest, and understand what factors prevented your muscles from finding it on their own. An orthotic can be made to help hold your jaw in that position during sleep or other times when jaw tension is problematic.
To learn whether we can help eliminate your jaw pain and other TMJ symptoms, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.