Although temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are relatively common, they can also be very painful. Any misalignment in the system of muscles and ligaments in our jaw can cause pain or general discomfort in the TMJ.
There are medications and even surgical procedures available to treat TMJ disorders. However, the pain is temporary in most cases and can be managed with self-care exercises at home.
5 Exercises to Relieve TMJ Pain
If you’re suffering from TMJ pain, there are various ways to relieve your symptoms. We’ve compiled a list of the five best exercises to help minimize TMJ pain and how to perform them.
Resisted Mouth Closing
The resisted mouth closing exercise involves applying light pressure to the chin while closing the mouth. To perform this exercise:
1. Place your thumbs under your chin.
2. Place your index fingers between the ridge of your mouth and the bottom of your chin.
3. Use your fingers and thumbs to apply gentle downward pressure to your chin while closing your mouth.
Resisted Mouth Opening
For this exercise, apply gentle pressure to your chin while opening your mouth. To perform this exercise:
1. Place two fingers under your chin and open your mouth slowly while applying gentle pressure with your fingers.
2. Hold for 3–6 seconds.
3. Slowly close your mouth.
Side-to-side Jaw Movement
The side-to-side jaw movement exercise involves moving the jaw from side to side to strengthen the jaw muscles. To perform this exercise:
1. Gently bite down with your front teeth on an object that is about one-quarter of an inch thick. Two tongue depressors will do the trick.
2. Slowly move your jaw from side to side.
3. Increase the thickness of your object once the exercise becomes too easy.
Forward Jaw Movement
The forward jaw movement exercise also requires a thin object. To perform this exercise:
1. Gently hold an object that is about one-quarter of an inch thick between your front teeth.
2. Move your jaw forward so that your bottom teeth are in front of your top teeth.
3. Replace the object with a thicker one as the exercise becomes too easy.
For the tongue-up exercise, slowly open and close your mouth while maintaining contact with the roof of the mouth. Repeat this movement several times for the best results.
Visiting the Dentist for TMJ Pain
Exercises for TMJ pain are generally safe, convenient, and helpful to reduce mild to moderate symptoms. However, it is best to visit a healthcare professional for more guidance on which treatment is best for you.