Caring for Face Pain and Sleep Apnea
Rich Hirschinger, DDS, MBA
Diplomate American Board of Orofacial Pain
9615 Brighton Way, Suite 323
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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Jaw Closing Muscles That Refer Pain Into Teeth

The closing muscles of the jaw are some of the strongest muscles in the human body. When measured on a pounds per square inch basis, the superficial masseter is the strongest muscle in the human body. All muscles get tired and fatigued and they have tipping points when they get overworked. These are the muscle referral patterns of the muscles that close the jaw, which are activated when you are clenching, grinding, chewing gum, biting your nails, chewing any object and any other occasion when the teeth are touching. It is for all these reasons that Dr. Hirschinger invented the gentle jaw, which is a passive stretching device to help stretch the muscles that close the jaw. You can learn more at

The site of the pain is in red and the source of the pain is indicated by the black "X." The more dense areas of red are not necessarily more painful that the less dense areas but they are the more common areas of referred pain. 

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Pain referred to upper molars 
Pain referred to lower molars 
Pain referred to upper front teeth 
Pain referred to upper middle teeth 
Pain referred to all the upper teeth 

Pain Referred to Upper Molars

Two of the muscles that close that jaw can cause referred pain in the maxillary (upper) molars. They are the upper part of the superficial masseter muscle and the posterior part of the trapezius muscle. 



Pain Referred to Lower Molars

The lower part of the superficial masseter muscle can cause referred pain in the ​mandibular (lower) molars. 


The trapezius muscle, which is the shoulder muscle can refer pain to the angle of the jaw. Although it is not a closing muscle of the jaw, the trapezius muscle must be ruled out as a source of the pain when patients complain of lower jaw pain. 


Pain Referred to the Upper Front Teeth

The anterior part of the temporalis muscle can cause referred pain in the ​maxillary (​upper) anterior teeth. 


Pain Referred to the Middle Front Teeth

The middle part of the temporalis muscle can cause referred pain in the ​maxillary (​upper) canines and premolar teeth. 


Muscle Referral Pattern of the Temporalis Muscle

When you combine the muscle referral patterns of all the fibers of the temporalis muscle, you can see that it can cause referred pain in all of the ​maxillary (​upper) teeth. 


Learn about the muscle referral patterns of the muscles that refer pain into the TMJ

Learn about appliances for TMJ.​
Learn about Botox treatment for TMJ and TMD

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