Local chiropractor explains why mask-wearing can cause jaw tension

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ALBQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Chiropractic Center is seeing more patients walking in for jaw discomfort. The cause for most of them is from wearing a face mask.

Dr. Dominic Gutierrez said face masks can cause TMJ issues.

“TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It’s where that kind of area of the skull meets up with the jaw,” Gutierrez said.

He explained face masks are causing a “micro-trauma” that leads to TMJ problems.

“These micro-traumas are caused by the mask-wearing, pulling on the back of the ear. You can see the ear close to our TMJ, so all this tension in the back of the ear is going to create tension in the back of the jaw,” he demonstrated using a skull model.

Dr. Gutierrez is also dealing with it after wearing a face mask all day, but it doesn’t necessarily take that much time to create tension. He said just wearing a mask a couple times a day for an hour or so can still create tension and cause jaw stiffness.

The tension could cause headaches and migraines. In the video above, Dr. Gutierrez shows muscles people can massage for some relief. If the issue is left without attention, pain injections or surgery could be needed down the road.

“Definitely don’t want to have to go that route,” he said.

Scalp massages or visits to a chiropractor can help prevent more invasive remedies.