With every pregnancy I have experienced different symptoms, but jaw swelling during pregnancy is one of the strangest. It started when I was starting my 22nd-23rd week of pregnancy. Around that time I had a visit with my dentist for a routine checkup and he suggested that it could be from grinding my teeth at night. I have never done that before, but I guess it is a possibility. It just didn’t sit right though. My jaw was only sore on one side and I had never experienced teeth grinding before.
Years ago I had an injury to my jaw that resulted in a misalignment. It was a silly accident, I was actually dancing behind a closed curtain during a dress rehearsal and when my dance partner and I realized they were about to open the curtain we panicked and he accidentally knocked me over and when I hit the floor my jaw popped really loudly. I am sure sure the extent of the damage, but I know it wasn’t too serious and it hasn’t been until the last few years that it has given me much trouble.
With pregnancy you are hit with so many changes, one of the changes is having a harder time breathing at night because of the swelling of mucous membranes. I had just gotten sick and noticed that night after night I was having to keep my mouth open to be able to breath. I know this put added stress on my jaw and was probably the root cause for the problem. Another issue is the loosening of the joints as a symptom of the hormones in your body that can effect your hips, your back, and apparently your jaw. When I researched swollen jaw issues for pregnant women this was by far the #1 link.
After weeks of a swollen jaw I got to the point that my teeth weren’t even touching on one side when I bit down. It was horribly painful. I hope these tips help you to find relief because I never saw this coming. Thankfully after about 6 weeks of pain my jaw is almost back to normal. I can breathe through my nose at night and my teeth are touching again!
What is TMD/TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint is the joint of the jaw and is frequently referred to as TMJ. The TMJ is a bilateral synovial articulation between the mandible and temporal bone. The name of the joint is derived from the two bones which form the joint: the upper temporal bone which is part of the cranium (skull), and the lower jawbone or mandible.
Visit a Chiropractor for soft tissue therapy:
I happened to be visiting my chiropractor for treatment of my back about a month after the symptoms had started and they were at their all time high. I have scoliosis, so when I am pregnant my back suffers as my belly grows. I mentioned my jaw issues and he suggested he give soft tissue therapy a try. Basically it is a very strong massage along your jaw muscles and you practice opening and shutting your mouth. It was super painful, but it felt so much better when he was done. He also pushed it into alignment every so nicely and that is something only a professional can do.
Massage your jaw as you exercise it:
The swelling that you are experiencing is very similar to a patient who has TMJ. So the therapies applied are very similar. After I had my initial treatment with the chiropractor I watched this video and used it to help me massage and exercise my jaw. I would try to do it a couple of times a day.
Rest your jaw as it heals:
While your jaw is healing do your best to give it a rest. This means no gum, chewing slowly and softly, and perhaps even talking a little less. 🙂 I tried to eat soft foods and snacks like yogurt, soup, green smoothies, fruit, and cottage cheese when my jaw was at it’s worst.
Visit a cranial sacral therapist:
This is another option for treating a swollen jaw. There is a fascia line between the lower jaw and the abdomen and some woman have so much change and stress in their abdomen that it ripples up to the face. This jaw work is done from within and I have been told can bring fantastic relief.
Buy a mouth guard:
You can have one custom made from your dentist that fits your mouth perfectly for about $300-$600. If you are looking for a short term/less expensive option you could try buying an athletic mouth guard, or one like this, soaking it in warm water and them letting it mold to your mouth. Depending on the underlying issue with your jaw pain this could be the perfect solution.
Tylenol and 10 minutes with an ice pack could help you as well.
The hope is that whatever is causing your pain is temporary and will be just another thing to chalk up as a strange pregnancy symptom. You may want to visit with an ear, nose, and throat doctor to be sure that there isn’t a deeper problem. I hope these tips helped you in some way!
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