gentle jaw was developed by Dr. Rich Hirschinger a few years after he finished a two-year residency in orofacial pain and dental sleep medicine at UCLA. Many doctors believe that most pain related to the jaw and the temporomandibular joint or 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 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,” 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 evidenced-based research discussing the benefits of jaw stretching can be found in the last FAQ below.