Stress-related jaw clenching is a relatively common issue that occurs in response to strong emotions or distress. In some individuals, it’s a daily issue that results in chronic tension, discomfort, and even pain in the jaw.

When you’re clenching your jaw constantly, it places tension on the masseter muscles in the face, which are necessary for chewing. It can also lead you to grind your teeth (known as bruxism), whether consciously or subconsciously.

There are many reasons why you might clench your jaw constantly. Understanding why you have this habit enables you to identify the best ways to manage and overcome it.

In this article, we’re going to cover why jaw clenching is so common and how to stop doing it if this is a current problem for you. If you’d like to learn more about how to stop clenching your jaw when you’re stressed, click here.

Why Do We Clench Our Jaws When We Feel Stressed?

Stress causes the body to go into what is known as ‘fight or flight mode’, where the activity of the sympathetic nervous system ramps up, and the body prepares to face or run away from danger. This stress response causes the release of cortisol, which causes many muscles in the body to tighten and become more active, including the jaw muscles.

Jaw clenching can also serve as a subconscious release for many people, helping to ease the negative emotions associated with stress. People tend to hunch over or maintain tension in their necks when stressed, too, and this can translate to the jaw, worsening the clenching habit.

How to Stop Clenching Your Jaw When Stressed

Chronic jaw clenching can lead to wear and tear on the teeth, causing gum recession and tooth breakages. It can also cause temporomandibular disorders (TMD), which leads to jaw pain, difficulty chewing, and clicking or popping sounds in the jaw.

It’s easy to clench your jaw or grind your teeth without noticing, especially if the habit is deeply ingrained into your subconscious behaviours. Learning to become more aware of your body, with a particular focus on your jaw, will enable you to identify when you’re clenching your jaw.

In turn, you can unclench it and release tension in this area of your face. Over time, you will find that your habits adjust, and you no longer clench your teeth without being aware of it.

Learning to cope with your stress in healthier ways is another crucial component for resolving your jaw-clenching habit. Identify some helpful stress management techniques to reduce your stress and anxiety, whether it’s deep breathing, gentle stretching, yoga, or walking in nature.

Incorporate these activities into your daily routine to try and reduce your overall stress levels. Lower stress means lower cortisol levels, less tension in your muscles, and a reduction in your jaw-clenching habit.

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].