The TMJ is located in front of the ear where the skull and jaw meet. The movable part of the joint is called condyle which articulates in a socket named articular fossa. Between these two lies a disk of cartilage that eases the movement of condyles to open and close the mouth. You will be able to tell if you are suffering from TMJ dysfunction if you feel even the slightest pain or discomfort while opening your mouth. This problem can be caused due to stress, excessive jaw clenching, teeth grinding, and other things that strain the jaw muscles around it. There are various jaw exercises to add to your routine in order to get rid of this pain. Though it can’t be promised that the pain will completely disappear, it will give significant relief to your discomfort. This article briefs you about the effects of TMJ disorder and some jaw exercises for TMJ. Do give a read to find about it in detail.
Symptoms of TMJ pain
- Pain in ear, face, jaw, neck
- Difficulty chewing
- Clicking, grating, or popping sounds while opening or closing your mouth
- Jaw joint gets locked
There are various TMJ exercises that will help you ease your joint pain. These exercises strengthen, stretch, and relax your muscles. Exercises restore your jaw’s range of motion and primarily target the jawbone at the base of the skull and also the throat and neck muscles.
This is one of the TMJ pain relief exercises that keeps the discomfort away. This involves opening and closing your mouth while placing some resistance on your chin.
Resisted opening exercise
- Place your thumb under your chin and gently push it upwards
- Slowly open your mouth and keep it open for a few seconds
- Close it slowly
Resisted closing exercise
- Keep your thumb under your chin
- Take the index finger of the same hand and place it on the ridge between your chin and lower lip
- Push it gently as you close your mouth
- Take your tongue on the roof of your mouth and press it
- Place index finger on the TMJ and another finger on chin
- Move your lower jaw up and down, keeping your tongue on the top of your mouth
This exercise helps you align the jawbone when you chew
Mandibular stabilization exercise
- Keep your jaw in a relaxed position
- Hold your thumb just below the chin and apply gentle pressure as you open your mouth
- Repeat the motion. Also, move your thumb left and right on the jaw to perform this exercise.
This exercise tries to align the jawbone and improve its range of motion over time.
- Stand straight with your shoulders back and chest lifted up
- Bring your head straight back and tuck in your chin
- Keep your head straight throughout the motion.
- This exercise strengthens the cervical muscles and also improves the alignment of the head and spine over time.
- Let your tongue stay touched on the roof of your mouth
- Open and close your mouth slowly
This jaw pain exercise improves the muscles and also their range of motion.
Stretching exercises to relieve TMJ pain. These exercises might be a little effortful. If you feel the pain while doing it then stop immediately.
- Relax your jaw with teeth slightly apart
- Open your mouth as wide as you can
- Hold it open for a few seconds and then slowly close it.
One more exercise that falls under the stretching category is
- Move your jaw to the left by parallelly taking your eyes towards left
- Hold it for a few seconds without turning your neck and head
- Relax and repeat on the opposite side
Stress triggers TMJ pain. Relaxation exercise is an effective solution for TMJ pain treatment
- Inhale gradually and allow your stomach to expand rather than chest
- Exhale slowly and in the most relaxed way
- Do it at least 5-10 times to feel more relaxed
The main motive behind these TMJ exercises is gradual improvement. Do not expect the results immediately as relief with these exercises take time. You will feel more relaxed and see your jaw aligning over a course of time little by little.
These exercises will ease your pain and prevent your stress about the pain you are going through. TMJ exercises shouldn’t be done with severe pain. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends waiting until your pain gets a little better. Start slowly as you might feel some pain initially, but tolerate a little to gradually improve. In the long run, doing it consistently will help you achieve your purpose. If exercising does not bring satisfactory results, then get in touch with us for better treatment and the right medical advice.