TMJ pain ranges from mild to severe. Luckily, there are several easy mouth exercises you can do to manage your pain.
If you hear a clicking sound or experience pain when you’re chewing and have headaches or ear, face, jaw, or neck pain, you may have a TMJ disorder.
You’re not alone. Around 10 million people in the United States suffer from at least one type of TMJ disorder. Your TMJ connects your jaw to your skull and enables your jaw to open, close, rotate, and glide so you can chew, talk, and swallow.
However, this hinge-like bone can become unaligned, or your jaw may become inflamed. Arthritis, dislocated joints, muscle tension, overuse, and teeth grinding are often culprits behind TMJ pain.
Try some of the exercises below to help manage your TMJ pain. Whether you have chronic TMJ pain or occasional flare-ups, these exercises can relax, stretch, and strengthen your jaw muscles, gradually promoting jaw healing, increasing jaw mobility, and reducing pain.
Mandibular Stabilization Exercise
Start with your jaw in a relaxed position. Press your thumb under your chin and gently apply pressure while opening your mouth. Continue to apply pressure for resistance while holding your mouth open for three to six seconds. Then slowly close your mouth.
This exercise will help strengthen and align your jawbone and gradually improve its range of motion. To get the most out of this exercise, perform it at least five times in a row, five times a day.
Like the previous exercise, this one is great for improving jawbone alignment. Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth, Place an index finger on your left or right TMJ and the other on your chin. Then, without moving your tongue, drop your chin while applying pressure with your fingers. You can either drop your lower jaw halfway or completely before closing your mouth. Then repeat the exercise for your other TMJ. You should feel mild resistance when performing this exercise.
To get the best results, perform one set (six repetitions) of the goldfish exercise six times each day. You can also perform a variation of this exercise by placing a finger on each TMJ.
Resisted Closing of the Mouth
This exercise can strengthen the muscles that help you chew and should be performed between TMJ flare-ups.
Open your mouth wide and use your index finger and thumb to place pressure on your chin. Continue squeezing as you slowly close your mouth. You can also place an index finger between your chin and lower lip, pushing inward to create resistance as you close your mouth.
Stand with your shoulders back and your chest up. Keep your head straight as you pull your chin back, tucking it to form a double chin. Hold this position for three seconds, then relax. Repeating this exercise up to 10 times daily will gradually improve the alignment of your head and spine and strengthen your cervical muscles.
Tongue Up Exercise
The tongue up exercise is easy, and you can do it no matter where you are. Begin by gently touching your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Then extend your jaw down as far as possible before closing and reopening your jaw to create a chewing motion.
Performing this exercise in sets of 10 at least three times daily will gradually strengthen your jaw muscles and improve their range of motion.
Side-to-Side And Forward Jaw Exercises
Performing the side-to-side jaw or forward jaw exercise at least once a day will improve your jaw’s range of motion over time.
First, place a flat wooden stick or stacked tongue depressors in your mouth and bite down softly, holding the object between your top and bottom teeth. Without loosening your bite, slowly shift your jaw from side to side or forward and backward. If these exercises become too easy for you, try using a thicker stick or adding a few tongue depressors to the stack.
Other Ways To Manage TMJ Pain
In addition to performing these exercises, you can massage your neck and head muscles, take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or use a stabilization splint. You also might want to try meditating, seeing a therapist, taking anti-anxiety medications, or practicing simple relaxation techniques if you unconsciously tense your muscles or grind your teeth in response to stress. If you have damaged joints, corticosteroid injections can help, but if you have a broken or missing jaw, you may need a jaw implant.
Some lifestyle changes you can make include abstaining from chewing gum, practicing good posture, avoiding biting your nails, and limiting large jaw movements. You’ll also want to maintain a thorough, regular dental care routine to maintain tooth alignment and prevent TMJ pain from worsening.
TMJ pain can negatively impact your quality of life. Espire Dental’s team of experienced professionals can recommend treatments for TMJ pain. Contact us today to get started.