Post # 1
I have one of those commutes that is so soul-sucking it makes you want to drive your car into a canyon because you don’t want to live in a world where it takes three hours to travel 50 miles.
It’s always been bad, but lately, for whatever reason, my face has just been a mass of tension. It used to just be when I was actually driving, but now it has progressed to where my face and jaw feel locked up all day every day. It is terrible! The only cure I’ve found so far is drinking alcohol until it relaxes, but since I don’t think becoming an alcoholic is really going to improve my life, I need a better plan.
The long-term plan, of course, is to find some way to not have that commute anymore, and I’m working on that. But for the shorter term, has anyone dealt with this problem and do you have any tips for me?
How I survive the commute presently: I listen to audiobooks; sometimes I listen to music if I’m not in the mood for a book; sometimes I learn Spanish via audiobook since I hoped that talking would help loosen the muscles (it doesn’t); sometimes I even sing along with my music but that doesn’t help either.
Even now, I’ve been off the road for an hour but my cheeks still feel like they’ve been doing planks. It is SO uncomfortable.
Post # 2
Ok this is going to sound nuts, but I did the same thing only in my sleep when I was stressed out. I couldn’t tell myself to unclinch myself because… I was sleeping.
I had botox in my jaw muscles. That fixed it. My doctor suggested it. It didn’t make it hard to chew or anything, but clinching is apparently too difficult for my face now. Ha.
I had it months ago but haven’t needed more. My doctor thinks I might get used to not doing it and not even ever need “top ups” on my botox.
Post # 3
iarebridezilla: I have the same issue when i’m stressed- i’ve even had my jaw straight up lock up on me- that was scary.. My doctor told me to start relaxing my jaw all the time. So basically, I just sit there with my mouth hanging open all the time like an idiot, but it’s the only thing I’ve found to really work for me… So anytime I notice my mouth closed & tension i just relax my jaw & let my mouth hang open & commence unattractiveness level 10!
Post # 4
CaroBee: hmmm, interesting … I have a dentist appointment in a week (is this a problem a dentist would be able to help with, or a different kind of doctor) so I will ask them what they know about it too. But it’s nice to know there’s at least a worst case scenario solution that isn’t so bad!
BeckyS0: LOL at “sit there with my mouth hanging open all the time like an idiot.” I’m going to give that a try too … though I will close my office door first so nobody sees me 😉 What’s weird is that I’m not clenching my teeth together or anything — it’s just my face. Ugh.
Post # 5
BeckyS0: LOL. That’s hilarious. I need to start doing this.
The past couple of months my jaw will randomly lock- I can get like 2 fingers width in my mouth, 3 sometimes. I have dreams that I am biting my teeth so hard that they crumble off.. So I must be doing it in my sleep.
It makes stuffing my face with burgers and brownies really difficult.
Post # 6
I know you seem to catch yourself during the day, but it’s possible you’re also clenching at night and making things more sensitive and tight during your commute.
I have bad jaw issues. I seem to clench my jaw as I sleep and it causes a plethora of jaw, ear, neck and shoulder issues.
I have a special dental device (a fancy, stupidly expensive bite plate), that I wear most nights, and I also have accupuncture & massage on my jaw and it helps SO much. It helps my daytime stress as well, so I am less likely to clenh during the day.
I was initially prescribed muscle relaxants, but they had the opposite reaction, leaving me an insomniac when I took them. lol
I would recommend starting with your dentist to see if you have a clenching issue. That can be REALLY hard on your teeth. You can wear them down if you grind, or crack them from clenching. It also caused me to have hypersensitive teeth.
I also suggest eating less chewy foods, not chewing gum, and maknig sure you’re not clenching during the day (your teeth should not be together in a relaxed position). A heating pad before bed on your jaw muscles will help things stay more relaxed before you sleep.
Post # 7
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
iarebridezilla: Aside from getting rid of the commute, get a TMJ mouthpiece to wear while driving.
Post # 8
iarebridezilla: As someone in Dentistry, I would def recc following through with seeing a dentist. Especially since you are unable to control it. It sounds like it could be a TMJ problem (they can develop seemingly out of nowhere). They may suggest an “occlusal guard” (mouth guard) to deter potential clenching/grinding. However, if it persists, they may want to refer you to a TMJ specialist… Which can sometimes be pricey and is not covered by some dental insurances (though your medical may pitch in).
Post # 9
iarebridezilla: I have similar jaw pain. Are you sure it’s from commuting stress alone? I have arthritis in my jaw, which sucks. I usually take Aleve, put a warm facecloth over my jaw area if it aches before bed, and wear a mouthguard or retainer at night. I used to wear my invisalign retainer but my dentist had a special mouthguard made instead to keep my jaw slack.
About your commute: my FI recently had to give up his 10 minute walk to the office for a 45 minute stop-and-go drive. He had commuting stress that manifested in tension in his neck/shoulders. He’s been taking transit for the past 3 weeks, and it’s been a lot better! He takes a train for an hour, then a bus for 25 minutes. Commuting a long distance sucks, so if you can take it easy/surf the web while doing it on a train instead, it may relieve some of the stress.
Post # 10
Soon2bmarried123: I’ll definitely talk to the dentist about it since it sounds like that’s the right place to start! I used to clench my teeth at night, and had to have a mouth guard made … now I seem to have stopped doing that though, and the pain is in a completely different place than it was when I clenched at night. Now it’s much more pronounced in the apples of my cheeks than in my actual jaw. Strange.
flowercrowns: yeah, I used to take the train in to work a few days a week, but now that I have to drop off and pick up DD from daycare every day, that’s not an option 🙁 The whole thing is pretty much a nightmare. I am literally driving for almost 3 hours every day, usually at a crawl. Even just thinking about it makes me tense up again!
Post # 11
A RMT might be able to help, depending on the specifc areas. Some will even teach you ways you can massage it yourself.
Post # 12
iarebridezilla: I’ve had problems with TMJ for a long time. Spent a lot of money on two different night guards, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractors, vitamins, etc….
The only thing that works for me is my night guard (the cheapest of the two) and B2 (riboflavin). The dentist who fit me for my cheaper night guard said another dentist friend of his was doing a study because he was convinced that B2 helped. I’m always impressed when someone in the medical community suggests something natural that they don’t make money off of.
I now take 200mg of B2 TWICE a day and it works amazing. I have to buy mine on amazon because the stores only seem to sell every other b vitamin there is except B2.
I’ve had jaw pain and persistent headaches for years and this really helps.
Post # 13
I recently learned that magnesium can relive jaw tension and stop/reduce clenching. I think calcium supplements may do the opposite and make it worse. Go get a high quality magnesium supplement (hint: Go to a good natural food store, not a regular pharmacy if you want a good quality product), I have a magnesium bi-glycinenate (sp?) from Natural Factors. Give that a try before doing more drastic measures!
Post # 14
FarleyNish: Kazza: these are definitely easy things to try! I have a pretty burly multivitamin here from when I was pregnant…I should see what vitamins are in it and maybe get back on that in the meantime. wouldnt it be nice if vitamins fixed me up…
Post # 15
iarebridezilla: I also take a magnesium supplement with the b2. It’s chelated magnesium which can be hard to find. Regular magnesium supplements usually have calcium in them which can make these problems worse. Way too much calcium added to things lately. We don’t need that much calcium and especially the poorly absorbed calcium that are in the supplements