For patients with COVID-19, there is another issue at hand that occurs during the recovery process: Jaw pain. This added symptom to an already laundry list of what COVID-19 causes can be due to breathing issues. In a recent news story, a person recovering from COVID-19 shared the impact of jaw pain. Let’s take a further look at jaw pain and COVID-19 recovery. 

How it occurs

Dr. Dieterich contracted COVID-19 after caring for a patient with the disease. He found that the novel coronavirus was ravaging his body, lungs, heart, feet and nose. While he continues to recover, one other thing he noticed was that he was experiencing jaw pain, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (TMD). 

This happened because of open-mouth breathing while he was struggling to get air in during his early months of recovery. To alleviate that strain he is experiencing in the TMJ region, Dr. Dietrich is wearing a mouth guard and performing different physical therapy routines. 

While the jaw pain he is now experiencing may seem minor compared to his battle against COVID-19, it is still bothersome. The mouth breathing that many patients do when struggling to breathe can weigh down the joint and add strain on it.

Improve posture

As dentists, we may not be treating patients who have COVID-19, but we can provide some tips to help them prevent jaw pain. This jaw pain often occurs in patients fighting the novel coronavirus because they may be holding improper postures due to breathing issues. It may also develop from overall weakness from the virus that leads to muscle imbalance that can create further tension on the jaw and neck.

Forward head postures can also lead to tightness in the muscles in the front of the neck, which can pull the TMJ back towards the inner ear. Poor postural awareness can result in the overuse of the muscles of respiration in front of the neck and upper chest instead of the diaphragm, says the article. 

Normalizing posture and practicing proper breathing patterns can help to decrease or eliminate symptoms of TMD, which can also cause neck pain, ringing in the ears, dizziness, fatigue, loss of balance and headaches.

We, as dentists, need to be available to help with these unique conditions for patients recovering from COVID-19, as well as those experiencing jaw pain from stress during the pandemic.