Masseter muscle pain years post wisdom teeth extraction

by Gary
(Victoria Australia)

Masseter muscle pain especially after eating, but it is a constant pain mainly in the left masseter muscle right side not as bad. There also seems to be knots in each masseter muscle; what could this possibly be?

Hello Gary,
Was the procedure done under a general anaesthetic? How long ago? Ah, years? Getting better or worse, or just the same?

Are there any clicks or pops in the jaw joint? If you place your fingers on them, just in front of the tragus of the ear and you open and close, do they seem symmetrical and any unusual jerks in the joint?

Press your index finger into the pterygoid pocket, google how to find it, with the pulp outwards; is it particularly tender?

Ask someone to sit in front of you and slowly open your mouth, pull the lips back to expose the teeth; does the lower jaw follow a smooth and symmetical trajectory?

Dr Barrie Lewis

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Clicking and Locking Jaw

by Danielle
(Fargo, ND)


For about two years now, I have had a horrible click to my jaw. Sometimes it's painful, sometimes not. It occurs when I chew and kiss. Basically whenever I have to move it. About once a month it locks open while chewing. Sometimes it feels like my face got struck by lighting when it happens and other times I can just feel it slipping and am now able to stop it from happening.

When it does happen, eating and talking are not options. The only way it becomes unlocked is by going to bed for the night. And in the morning, all is good, just the clicking. (I'm assuming it the relaxation at night). So if it locks in the morning, it is a very long day.

Also when I open, the entire jaw shifts and does not pop in unison. (It shifts to the right and pops first on the left side and then the right side). Viewing your chart, everything is definitely happening in the TM Joint.

Do you feel the exercises you have on this site would work for me? I have never done any nor sought professional help for my jaw.

Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.

Hello Danielle,
First a couple questions? Have you had your wisdom teeth removed under anaesthetic, or major dental work with the molars? When did this begin?

Thirdly, do you suffer from facial pain, or headaches? Any suboccipital pain at the base of the skull?

You almost certainly have a severely damaged meniscus that is allowing the joint to dislocate. Hence my questions about what caused it.

You've left this a long time. Too long if I may say so.

I would certainly start with the exercises, but very gently. Any that cause the dislocation, avoid.

Start looking for someone who works with jaw joints. That might be your dentist or chiropractor, but physical therapist too. This is a nasty case, and you need someone really experienced.

A bite plate at night might help, but it sounds like your problems are not brought on at night, as is often the case. Do you suffer from bruxism? Grinding of the teeth at night?

The big thing is to take small bites and not open your jaw wide. It's hard but the best. No apples or burgers. Cut your food up into small pieces.

Chewing gum might aggravate it.

I wish I could be more helpful. Try at all costs to avoid surgery.

Good luck and let me know how you get on a month or two. Start with your dentist.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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Jun 05, 2015
Much Thanks
by: Anonymous

First of all, I want to thank you for your advice. I've gone a long time with people telling to get help with it but I'm guess I've just been stubborn!

To answer your questions. Yes, I had all 4 wisdom teeth pulled. But not under anesthetic and not even under the "laughing gas". Just a numbing type of shot. I've given birth to 3 children and would choose that any day over getting my teeth pulled again. Worse experience of my life!!! The doctor was physically on top of me, breaking, and pulling chunks of my teeth out. I could tell everything he was doing. A few days after, I got a severe infection and ended seeing a doctor for it. That was in 2005.

Not much facial pain. My jaw is just constantly tense/tight so that wears on ya!

Yes to headaches; most are either behind my eyeballs or yes, at the base of my skull in the back.

No to teeth grinding. Just a lot of clenching from my jaw being quite tight. I feel like I can never relax my face.

But yes, as soon as insurance allows, I will be seeking help. The tightness, clicking, and occasional locking is just getting too much to handle.

Again, thank you. - Danielle

Hello Danielle,
Just like adjusting the neck, and surgically doing a good hip replacement, pulling wisdom teeth is an art. It sounds like you had a butcher at work. But you can only live your life forwards.

Start by massaging your face yourself, or asking he who must be obeyed to do it. I'm not a sexist, I have a she who must be obeyed! Gently go over the muscles of the jaw as you open and close, without going far enough to click.

Your neck will need to be adjusted most likely, and the jaw joints balanced. It's difficult, so don't be impatient. Rome wasn't built in a day.

The TMJ exercises at Chiropractic Help might help; do them gently at first, until you know where you are.

An orthotic between the teeth at night sometimes helps, but it's a real art to make it correctly. It's not pleasant, but some folk swear by them.

Good luck, and let me know how you get on.

By the way, you've been saving huge sums by not having insurance. Nows the time to spend it.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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Click in my right jaw and no pain

I have a click in my right jaw and no pain. Will these exercises work to get rid of the click. Or do you recommend the TMJ Appliance? Or can seeing a chiropractor help instead. My insurance will not cover seeing a mouth specialist.

Thank you for your help.

Hello Kathy,
Depending on a number of factors, this may be something you must learn to live with. Pain is another matter, and especially if you start to get facial pain or migraine type headaches.

At some stage your mouth was opened too wide; for example biting on an apple, or having your wisdom teeth out under a general anaesthetic. The meniscus was damaged and provided there is no pain, is manageable; an irritant, but hardly disabling.

The TMJ exercises may well help and there's certainly no harm in trying them.

Unless you are grinding your teeth, I don't see much merit in an expensive orthotic.

Press your finger deep into the 'pterygoid pocket' between the cheek and the last molar; is it very painful compared to the other side?

I find my treatment usually helps a lot if there's pain, but doesn't do much for the click; there's damage to the meniscus.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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Jaw problems

by Willemien
(South-Africa Gauteng)

I have a huge overbite and my lower jaw needs to be extended so I need to go for a jaw operation ASAP because it is giving me endless problems; I struggle everyday, I cannot eat or sleep or even yawn. I have a referral letter but I don't have a medical aid. How do I go about it?

Hello Willemien,
I always recommend trying the conservative route before going for major surgery; and this is a BIG operation.

Also, your overbite may be what we call an incidental finding; present, but not the cause of your problems.

Start with our TMJ exercises for a few weeks; use the search function at Chiropractic Help to find them.

Then contact your local Gauteng chiropractic association for help in locating someone who works with jaw joint problems.

Good luck; I hope this contributes.

Dr Barrie Lewis

PS I'm having difficulty locating the chairperson of Gauteng chiropractic association myself. Try going to and using the contact tab ask them.

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Severe facial pain and headache

by Sweta
(Jalandar Punjab india)

Examination of the TMJ

Examination of the TMJ

Almost a year have past but I am still suffering with facial pain, switches the side, and headache. First I visited my dentist thinking that I might have tooth ache but he said everything was fine and asked me to go the ent specialist.

Seeing my symptoms he said I might have sinus infection so I was given antibiotics but after it got worse I switched to another doc who gave me a series of medicines over 2 months. I got my CT scan but nothing special was there. There is improvement cause I don't get a blocked nose anymore but in Dec my facial was accompanied by neck pain which extends to both arms.

Is there any possible way to get well cause I am not able to focus on my studies. I have searched all sites and my doctors are confused sometimes they say I have sinus, allergy or may be due to neck pain. I have tried other options like Ayurveda but none is helping and I am in no mood to swallow medicines which make me dizzy and tired. I am just 18 yrs and want to be a doctor but with these things my dream is fading. Please help me as I am losing interest in living, I don't have enough money to pay those bills. Please help me.

Dear Sweta,
Do you have any pain, or clicking or popping sounds from your jaw joints? They are located just in front of the ears.

Slide your index finger into your mouth and back into the 'pterygoid pocket" between the last upper molar and the cheek; is it very tender?

There are so many causes of these symptoms; it sounds like you are experiencing what is known as a trigeminal neuralgia. But it could be coming from your neck.

Ask your doctors whether these symptoms could be coming from the jaw joints.

I wish I could offer more; alas not.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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Jaw joint pain and locking after root canal

I recently (2 within the past 4 months) had 2 root canals, side by side, lower molars. After the first procedure I did not experience any jaw pain but it did take a while for other pain to diminish.

I had the second root canal about 3 weeks ago. It took about 1h 45 to complete. I had no jaw pain until about a week ago and now I cannot open my mouth all the way (the pain stops me from this).

I also have neck pain and a protruding clavicle. I did go to dentist about a week ago and was told the jaw pain was from the injection that went into the muscle and caused some bruising etc.

Should I be concerned about these symptoms?

I am also clenching my teeth; I have a mouth guard but do not want to use until my root canals have healed and temporary caps are put in and using it will put pressure on my last back molar that rises above the rest (an old filling in the tooth).

I will welcome any suggestions you might have. This is a miserable feeling.

Thank you.

Hello Charisse.
Filling in a few gaps, I presume you had jaw joint issues before these two root canals; hence the bruxism.

What you are describing sounds more like a displaced meniscus in one of the jaw joints; hence you're unable to open your mouth fully. Does it click or pop?

Over opening of the mouth is one of the causes but it's relatively rare during routine dental work in the chair; you would have yelled before he could open your mouth that much. And I would have expected the locking to have started almost immediately, not a week later.

So, I'm thinking of an old injury, exacerbated perhaps by such prolonged dental work.

My best suggestion at this stage is to start of TMJ exercises; do them slowly and gently. They shouldn't cause pain.

If it doesn't help then you need to find a local chiropractor who works with the jaw joint; you'll have to shop around a bit.

The sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve that supplies the jaw joint lies in the upper cervical spine, so there is often overlapping neck pain. Are you getting headaches?

You might try gentle massaging the external pterygoid muscle in the so-called pocket; if it's red hot then it's part of the problem. Slide your index finger of the opposite hand into your mouth, pulp facing outwards, passed the upper molars into a little gap; poke around and see if there's an exquisitely painful spot. Your dentist will help you.

Let me know how you get on.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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