Jaw muscle pain and tightness around the jaw usually comes from muscle overuse, frequently caused by psychological stresses that results in the individual to grind or clench the teeth (known as bruxism).
Most individuals may place their index tips, ring, and middle fingers holding vertically in the space between the lower and upper front teeth without forcing. When an individual has problems with the muscle around the temporamandibular joints, such spaces are generally smaller. Individuals, who experience muscle pain commonly have very little aching in the joints themselves. They experience more pain and tightness on the face sides after stressful days or upon awakening. Such pain and tightness is caused by muscle spasms brought by repeated tooth grinding and muscle or teeth clenching.
Grinding and clenching at the time of sleep exerts far more force than grinding at the time of awakening. Individuals with grinding and clenching teeth may take some actions to break the habits. Main treatment for such a condition is splint therapy. A night guard (thin plastic splint) is made to fit over either the lower or upper teeth set (usually upper) and is adjusted to give the individual even bites. The splint lowers nighttime and daytime grinding and permits the muscle of the jaw to relax and recover.
A doctor can also order physical therapy, which may include friction electromyographic massage, stretch exercises, and spray, biofeedback, and ultrasound treatment. Such procedures as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulations also can be helpful. Stress management, sometimes combining with electromyographic biofeedback, frequently brings significant improvement. A dentist also can prescribe a drug. For example, a muscle-relaxing medication can be used to ease pain and tightness, especially, at the time when a person waits for a splint to be made.
However, drugs are not a cure and usually are not advised for the elderly, and are used only for a short time period, generally for a month or less. Analgesics, such as Aspirin also subside pain. A dentist avoids prescribing narcotics because they may be habit forming. Sleeping pills can be used sometimes to help individuals with trouble sleeping, caused by pain.