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  • Writer's pictureErienne Blanchard

Jaw Sprain? What is it and will it stay?

A jaw sprain can be traumatic or mechanical injury to the joint. This can happen after a motor vehicle accident, facial trauma, or just biting down on something chewy or hard. Long dental appointments or dental surgeries can also cause a jaw sprain.

African-American Male holding his chin and face with eyes closed in visible discomfort

Symptoms of a jaw sprain can be sudden jaw pain, limited opening, tenderness, and loss of the ability to chew or speak without pain. Common symptoms of a sprain may be:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness

  • Popping or inability to open the mouth

  • Cheek muscle pain and tightness

  • Head or earaches

  • Pain with chewing or biting

  • The feeling that you need to "baby" or be cautious with your jaw

Are you at risk?

If you have a history of prior jaw pain, sprain, or incidences where you have had some of the symptoms above, then you may be at risk for another incident. This may occur more with a prolonged opening requirement like a dental appointment or surgery. Dental events that could put you at risk when you have a higher risk are:

  • Long appointments

  • Multiple appointments in a short amount of time

  • Multiple injections

  • Multiple back teeth work on both sides

African-American Girl holding the right side of her face with a scrunched nose in visible distress

How do I reduce my risk?

You may require dental procedures that require all of the above like 3rd molar (wisdom teeth removal) or other back molar filings or extractions. It is important to speak up if you are having pain and difficulty with your position.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for breaks

  • Ask for shorter appointment times

  • Ask for breaks during the appointment

What do I do if I have a jaw sprain?

Remember it is normal to have soreness for up to a week after a treatment. You can speak to your dentist regarding taking anti-inflammatories and any other medications needed.

  • Anti-inflammatories if the symptoms are going longer than 2 weeks (speak to your dentist and physician before beginning a regime)

  • Hot/Cold compress careful to have a towel or pillow case between the heat or cold and your face.

  • Applying pressure to the area

  • Call your Craniofacial/ TMJ Physical Therapist as they will help you perform the proper exercises, manual therapy to reduce the pressure and swelling, and give you education on food and eating choices

the world ice spilled out using ice cubes on a teal background

A splint can be helpful to reduce the pain and pressure so be sure to let you dentist know that the pain is continuing and present after a week. Remember you can request Physical Therapy as well any time when you have pain. You can come without a referral to have your jaw evaluation and gain relief.

Sprain happens but they don't have to stay and we can work on reducing you risk of re-injury with any future or further dental appointments, eating, or daily tasks.

Call your Craniofacial Physical Therapist to help!

352-727-0472 or


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