Quite often it is your dentist that points it out to you when you go in for your twice yearly check-up as they can see that you are actually wearing down or damaging your teeth as a result. They might offer you a mouth guard to help to prevent the damage but that doesn't help you to stop doing it.
In Amatsu, we take the jaw (or temporo-mandibular joint/TMJ as it is properly known) very seriously and even if my clients haven't got any symptoms of jaw clenching, I will periodically check the fluidity of the movement of their jaw to make sure all is well. I have learnt over the time I have been practising Amatsu that sometimes a pain experienced elsewhere in the body can originate from our jaw.
why do we need to address it?
We are anatomically designed to stand upright and to be able to clearly view our surroundings. For us to get an accurate picture of what is going on around us, it is really important that our eyes are level and our head can move in a horizontal plane. If there is a problem that starts to affect this, such as an injury or over-tight muscles pulling at the skull, the body will gradually adapt its posture in any way possible. Those over tight muscles, can be the masseters.
As our body desperately tries to keep our head balanced and level, it may need to adapt at the upper neck to do so. Over time, this can lead to other changes at the shoulders and start to cause discomfort in the arms and even the lower back and hips. So when we address our teeth clenching, we are potentially preventing other problems elsewhere in our body. So it's worth trying to do it less!
what you can do
- If you are someone who clenches or grinds during the day, try to become more aware of when you are doing it and stop yourself. Even reducing the time that you do this will help. You might be surprised how much you are doing it as you become more aware, but the more you notice, the more you will stop yourself!
- Have an Amatsu treatment! I work on every clients masseter muscles as part of the final part of a session. Often they can be quite tight and sore but this regular work helps to reduce the build-up of tension in this area.
- Address the underlying causes. Is there any small way that you can bring down the stress levels in your life? I know it's not easy, but I am a huge fan of small steps! Just saying no occasionally when you feel obliged to say yes is a start.
- Try to wind down before bed. I occasionally wake up with a tight jaw and it's often when I have watched something over-stimulating on TV or been checking my emails too late.
- Emotional Freedom Technique is a way of addressing underlying emotions using questioning, repetition and tapping on acupressure points. I completed an initial course in EFT earlier in the autumn and I will be looking for case studies in the next couple of weeks. Please let me know if you are interested by replying to this email.