Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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Yes, we like to refer to the gentle jaw as yoga for the jaw. Some of our favorite names that we have heard from customers are the jaw stretcher, the jaw stretchy thing, the jaw stretcher thingy, the mouth stretcher, the mouth stretch device, the miracle device, the TMJ stretcher, the TMJ defeater, etc. What do you think it should be called?
The gentle jaw was developed by Dr. Rich Hirschinger, a Board-certified orofacial pain specialist, which is a recognized dental speciality of the American Dental Association. Many doctors believe that most pain related to the jaw and the temporomandibular joint, which is known as TMJ, is due to occlusion, meaning how the upper and lower teeth come together. If the occlusion, also referred to as “the bite,” is not properly aligned, the theory is that this leads to pain.
However, in his orofacial pain residency, his experience treating patients, and in his experience as a clinical supervisor at the UCLA Orofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Medicine residency, Dr. Hirschinger learned that the opposite is actually true — many people with a “bad bite” don’t have pain and many that have “excessive occlusion,” which is when the teeth are together too much, do experience pain.
If the teeth are touching, the four muscles that close the jaw are contracted, and any muscle that is contracted too frequently will likely cause pain. If a muscle is causing pain due to being contracted too much, the treatment must include regular stretching. This is where using the gentle jaw several times a day can help to relieve pain.
Some evidence-based research discussing the benefits of jaw stretching can be found in the last FAQ below.
Fortunately, the gentle jaw does not require an exam or a prescription. However, if you are not able to stretch your jaw open to accommodate the middle “step” of the medium-sized gentle jaw after using it for 30 seconds every two hours for at least two weeks, then you should seek advice from a professional who is trained to treat issues related to the jaw muscles and temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
The gentle jaw comes in three sizes, which are small, medium, and large. The small ranges from 22 mm to 32 mm. The medium ranges from 33 mm to 43 mm. The large ranges from 44 mm to 54 mm. Since the normal range of motion of a jaw is between 40 mm and 60 mm, some users will only need the medium and they will never use the large. Also, most people will never need the small size. However, we include all three sizes for your convenience since everyone is different.
No! The goal is to feel a good stretch to increase your range of motion if it is limited by tight muscles. The normal range of motion is 40 to 60 mm so if you are in the lower end of normal, you should be able to use the medium size within a couple of steps of the end since the range of the medium size is 33 mm to 43 mm. The large ranges from 44 mm to 54 mm but some people will never be able to open wide enough to use the large gentle jaw and some will. Those that are able to use the large might feel that the lower steps are sufficient and others might be able to stretch more. The key is to not overstretch.
No. The maximum range of stretching with the gentle jaw is 54 mm. This is the maximum anyone should stretch their jaw on a consistent basis since the normal range of motion for people is 40 mm to 55 mm, according to some research, and 40 mm to 60 mm according to other research. Dr. Hirschinger never wants anyone to overstretch, which is why the largest gentle jaw has a maximum range of 54 mm. Beyond that, you can overstretch the ligaments, muscles, and retrodiscal tissues of the temporomandibular joint, and you can cause an open lock or subluxation of the jaw, which means you cannot close as depicted in the animation.
If you cannot open past the middle of the medium gentle jaw after using the device several times a day for several days, and your opening is less than it used to be, you should see a healthcare professional trained in treating the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) since you likely have a mechanical issue with the joint as opposed to a muscle issue.
There are many studies showing the benefits of stretching skeletal muscles including the closing muscles of the jaw. Here are a few:
1. Bruxism: Is There an Indication for Muscle-Stretching Exercises? Simone Gouw, RPT, Anton de Wijer, PhD., Nico H.J. Creugers, DDS, PhD., Stanimira I. Kalaykova, DDS, PhD. Int J Prosthodont 2017;30:123–132. doi: 10.11607/ijp.5082
2. Efficacy of a Dynamic Jaw Opening Device Michael D. Stubblefield, MD, Laura Manfield, MD, Elyn R. Riedel, MA, Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2010;91:1278-82.
3. Viscoelastic properties of muscle-tendon units. The biomechanical effects of stretching. Dean C. Taylor, MD, CPT, MC, USA, James D. Dalton, Jr, MD, Anthony V. Seaber, and William E. Garrett, Jr, MD, PhD The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 18, No. 3 1990
4. A Randomized Clinical Trial of a Tailored Comprehensive Care Treatment Program for Temporomandibular Disorders Dworkin et al, Journal of Orofacial Pain, Volume 16, Number 4, 2002
5. Mobilization regimens for the prevention of jaw hypomobility in the radiated patient: A comparison of three techniques. Daniel Buchbinder, DMD, Robert B. Currivan, DMD, Andrew J. Kaplan, DMD, Mark L. Urken, MD. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Volume 51, Issue 8, August 1993, Pages 863-867
6. Treatment of myogenic temporomandibular disorder: a prospective randomized clinical trial, comparing a mechanical stretching device with standard physical therapy exercise. Sophie Kraaijenga, Lisette van der Molen, Harm van Tinteren, Frans Hilgers, Ludi Smeele. Cranio 2014 Jul;32(3):208-16
Yes and no. Let me explain. The gentle jaw will not help stop bruxism, which is defined as the clenching and/or grinding of teeth. However, bruxism usually causes pain in the muscles that close the jaw, and the gentle jaw was exactly designed to help that type of muscle pain. No one has a solution for bruxism during sleep so a nightguard is highly recommended to protect the teeth from wearing against each other. You can tell if you grind your teeth by looking for wear facets. The canines, or cuspids, are usually pointy. If they look flattened on the edge as shown in the image to the right, you grind your teeth, which usually occurs during sleep. During the day, people do not grind but they do clench. That is why it is important that your teeth should be kept apart during the day, and you should stretch for 30 seconds with the gentle jaw about every two hours.
No, the gentle jaw will only help with muscle pain, which is the source of 95% of the pain patients complain about even when they think they have "TMJ." If your joint is clicking, stretching will not help reduce or eliminate the noise. Having said that, if you are having pain, the important question is, "where is the pain?" If the click is not painful but the pain is in your jaw, your temples, under your jaw, etc. then the gentle jaw will likely help. If you are not having pain with a clicking joint, then invasive treatment is most likely not indicated. Please visit Dr. Hirschinger's website to learn about clicking joints.
If you have been told that you have a closed locked by a healthcare professional then the gentle jaw will not help. A closed locked, which is clinically known as anterior disc displacement without reduction, is a mechanical issue that will not be resolved by stretching. A closed locked means the neck of the jaw, which is called the condyle, is blocked by the back part of the disc from being able to get onto the disc. When the disc is blocking the condyle it means the opening is extremely limited compared to before the locking occurred and if you try to open wider, the jaw does not budge at all. When the condyle is on the disc, you might hear a click when opening, and you should be able to open further after you hear the click. However, the opening can still be limited because the muscles are sore and/or injured from overuse due to clenching, grinding, chewing gum, stress, etc. If you feel that you are able to open but it hurts, then the issue is likely muscular and the gentle jaw can help. If you feel that when you try to open it feels like it would be impossible to open even 1 mm more and your opening is much less than normal, then it is likely a disc issue and the gentle jaw will not help and you should see a dentist with specialty training on how to unlock the joint.
Yes. The gentle jaw stretches the four muscles that close that jaw, which are the superficial masseter, the deep masseter, the temporalis and the medial pterygoid. The muscles get sore and painful due to daytime clenching, and/or nighttime clenching and/or grinding. Clenching and grinding are collectively called bruxism. These jaw closing muscles can also be sore from gum chewing, nail biting, chewing ice, chewing stickey and chewy foods, etc. Along with the gentle jaw, it is important that you learn to keep your teeth apart during the day. You can do this by saying the letter "N." When you say "N," your tongue should be behind your upper front teeth and your teeth should be apart. This is a natural resting position and the muscles are not contracted.
In most cases, the answer is no so please do not purchase the gentle jaw if your only symptom is tinnitus. However, several muscles that close the jaw, such as the deep masseter, can refer pain into the ear, and tinnitus can result. if your tinnitus is one-sided, then the gentle jaw may help but we only recommend you base your purchase decision if you also have pain in or around your ear along with the tinnitus.
This is a great question. What is comes down to is what is and what is not "TMJ." TMJ is not a diagnosis since it is a body part. However, in Dr. Hirschinger's private practice many people claim, "I have TMJ." He then asks them to point with one finger where their pain is, which is when they usually point to the superficial masseter and/or the deep masseter. These are two of the four muscles that close the jaw. The other two muscles that close the jaw are the temporalis and the medial pterygoid. The point is that most people who think they have TMJ are experiencing muscle pain, which is called myalgia. The pain is due to nighttime clenching and/or grinding, and/or daytime clenching, and the pain is from one, two, three or all four of the jaw closing muscles. When muscles are tight they need to be stretched, and the gentle jaw stretches all four of the jaw closing muscles. There are other muscles that can refer pain into the joint area, which you can learn about at https://www.beverlyhillstmjheadachepain.com/tmj-muscle/myofascial-pain/muscle-referral-patterns/muscles-that-refer-pain-into-the-tmj/
Yes, it can. Trismus is an inability to open the mouth or jaw due to acute muscle injury. When you cannot open wide due to trismus, it can interfere with many common activities such as talking, chewing, swallowing, and any activity that requires the mouth to be opened. Trismus may be caused by recent dental treatment, a dental infection, recent trauma or surgery, or other factors. Stretching with the gentle jaw is very beneficial to help return the range of motion to normal.
The gentle jaw can be helpful as apart of a post-procedure recovery plan. Ask your healthcare professional for more information about the benefits of passive stretching in speeding recovery and reducing pain.
Yes, the gentle jaw is very effective for people who have had recent surgery including brain surgery, oral surgery, radiation, etc. since it helps to regain the lost range of motion that is usually decreased during these procedures. The temporalis muscle is the muscle in the skull that is usually cut during brain surgery. It is one of the four muscles the gentle jaw stretches along with the superficial masseter, the deep masseter, and the medial pterygoid. These are the four muscles that close the jaw, which tighten up after surgery and/or radiation in the head. We recommend you go slow and do not push yourself too fast but you are in control of the amount you stretch.
Yes, the gentle jaw can be used and, more importantly, should be used if you have arthritis in one or both of your temporomandibular joints (TMJ). The Mayo Clinic defines arthritis as "the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis." The most common form of arthritis in the TMJ is osteoarthritis, which can occur due to the clenching and/or grinding that people do usually during sleep. The best way to maintain the range of motion of a joint is to stretch it, and that is one of the reasons the gentle jaw was developed.
The gentle jaw is made from medical-grade nylon that is sourced from castor oil, a renewable and sustainable resource. The gentle jaw does not contain any plastic, it does not contain any BPA, and it does not contain any phthalates. The device is fabricated in a certified clean room and is safe to use out of the box.
Your gentle jaw devices may be cleaned with water and a brush. Do not use toothpaste. If small white spots appear on the device, this means you are not cleaning it well enough after each use. You can purchase denture cleanser tablets to remove these white spots, which are due to the tartar that can also build up on your teeth. Drop one tablet into very warm water (not hot), enough to cover the gentle jaw. Place the gentle jaw into the effervescing solution, which will change color as it cleans. After five minutes or more, remove the gentle jaw, and brush and rinse the device thoroughly. Do not place the gentle jaw in a dishwasher.
Many people start to see results within a few days. It may take some people a few more days or weeks of using the gentle jaw as prescribed to feel the desired pain relief and an increase in a range of motion. Please remember that the gentle jaw needs to be used for 30 seconds every couple of hours. It does not work if it is not used, and it does not work if it is only used a couple of times a day.
When you have pain, the gentle jaw should be used for 30 seconds every two hours. You should also do an extra 30-second stretch whenever you catch yourself clenching your teeth during the day. If your pain goes away, then we recommend you use the gentle jaw for 30 seconds four times a day (before breakfast, before lunch, before dinner, and before bedtime).
Yes, the gentle jaw is safe to use when you have had dental treatment on your front teeth. You should not be applying too much pressure on your teeth when using the gentle jaw. It should be safe to use with crowns, implants, and veneers. It should also be safe with most bonding but if you have any doubt, please check with your dentist before using the gentle jaw if you have had any existing dental treatment done on your front teeth.
Free shipping is included within the United States, which usually means delivery to most locations in the United States in 1-5 days. We need to charge shipping fees to Canada due to customs fees we have to pay to ship to Canada, which are not included in the purchase price. Canadian customers might also be charged a separate duty fee to receive their package, which we are not responsible for. You pay the actual shipping costs if you want to upgrade for faster delivery. We do make a profit off shipping to any customer.
Yes. We are so confident that the gentle jaw will help you that we offer a 30-day money-back guarantee from the date of receipt of your device. To be eligible for a return, all items included in the purchase must be returned in their original packaging. Refunds only include the cost paid for the kit. Refunds do not include the original cost for shipping, the cost of return shipping to us, or any additional fees including duties. Please provide a shipping tracking number so we can confirm receipt of your return once it is received. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a return and if you have any concerns or questions about your device.