Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder can be quite painful. The good news is, there are a number of exercises you can do at home (or work) to help enhance your jaw strength and reduce discomfort.
What Is TMJ Disorder?
This is a condition that affects the bones and muscles of your jaw. Your TMJ moves your jaw while you are talking, eating, or even yawning. The ligaments, joints, and muscles that control your jaw are on both sides of it. When a misalignment occurs within these areas, your jaw experiences stiffness and pain.
According to the TMJ Association, common causes of these conditions include:
- Dental surgery.
- Jaw trauma.
- The insertion of a breathing tube during surgery.
- Autoimmune disease.
- Clenching or grinding your teeth.
Some TMJ signs and symptoms include:
- Head and neck muscle tension.
- Headaches and migraines.
- Sore jaw.
- Head, shoulder, or neck pain.
- Shoulder tightness.
- Ringing in the ears and ear pain.
- Teeth that are severely worn.
- Cold-sensitive teeth.
- Pain or discomfort behind the eyes.
- Tingling in the fingers.
6 Exercises That Help With TMJ Pain
Some have found success in strengthening and stretching their jaw to decrease discomfort from TMJ. Below are 6 exercises you can do at home or work.
1. Resist Mouth-Closing
This involves adding pressure to your chin while closing your mouth. The first step is to place your thumbs under your chin. Next, place your index fingers between your mouth’s ridge and the bottom of your chin. Lastly, use your fingers and thumbs and gently place a downwards pressure on your chin as you close your mouth.
2. Resist Mouth-Opening
You can also gently add pressure to your chin when opening your mouth. Firstly, place two fingers under your chin. Then, slowly open your mouth while also adding some gentle pressure with your fingers. Finally, hold this stance for about three to six seconds, and slowly close your mouth.
3. Tongue Lifts
This exercise involves opening and closing your mouth slowly, while still keeping your tongue touching the roof of your mouth. You can repeat the exercise several times.
4. The Oxford University Hospitals Exercise
The UK’s Oxford University Hospitals offer an interesting at-home exercise. Firstly, close your mouth and allow your teeth to touch without clenching. Place the tip of your tongue right behind your upper front teeth. Run it back towards the soft palate until it can’t reach further. Lastly, ensure to keep your teeth together.
You will want to keep your tongue there and open your mouth slowly until it starts to pull away. Try and hold this position for five seconds. After that, close your mouth and relax. Finally, repeat this exercise for about five minutes, twice a day.
5. Jaw Slide Side-To-Side
The first step is to bite down gently on your front teeth with an object that is around one-quarter inch thick. A suggestion is two popsicle sticks. However, you can use anything, really. After you have your object, move your jaw from side to side, ever so slowly. In addition, up the thickness of the object as this exercise gets “easier” over time.
6. Jaw Forward Movement
Much like the above exercise, ensure you have an object, one-quarter inch in thickness. Hold it gently between your front teeth, and then move your jaw forward. In fact, make sure your bottom teeth are in front of the top ones. As this becomes easier, switch out the object with something thicker.
Look to Your Dentist For TMJ Treatment Options
While the above exercise might help your TMJ pain, it may not offer a long-term solution. Many are turning to their dentist in St. Louis for TMJ treatment options. While some patients turn to oral appliances, others might require neuromuscular orthodontics.
Looking For Pain Relief From TMJ? Schedule A Visit To Your Dentist In St. Louis, Today!
Suffering from TMJ pain? Perhaps you feel as if you’ve “tried” everything! The silver lining in all this is, Smile On Dental Studios can help! As a neuromuscular dentist, Dr. Chris Hill aims to find the root issue behind your TMJ pain. His goal is to relieve your pain without the use of surgery or medications.
Our St. Louis dental office uses state-of-the-art technologies to pinpoint your TMJ diagnosis. We work collaboratively with patients to find offer a custom treatment plan. Therefore, we will not only help you reduce discomfort, but also correct your TMJ issue, for good. If you think you are suffering from TMJ symptoms, call our St. Louis office today at (314) 678-7876. You can also reach out online to book an appointment.