7 Effective Exercises for TMJ Disorders

7 Effective Exercises for TMJ Disorders

Dec 01, 2020

Your temporomandibular joints connect the jawbone to the skull. They are used every time you chew, swallow, and talk. If there is something wrong with these joints or your jaw muscles, you will experience TMJ disorders. They could be a result of inflammation, jaw injury, or overuse.

The symptoms range from mild to severe and include:

  • Pain during chewing
  • Pain in the face, ear, neck, and jaw
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in your jaw whenever you close or open your mouth
  • Jaw-locking
  • Headaches

To help with the pain, your dentist in Englewood, FL, may recommend some special exercises. Although it isn’t yet clear how TMJ exercises relieve pain, they are thought to:

  • Strengthen the jaw and its muscles
  • Relax your jaw
  • Increase jaw mobility
  • Reducing clicking of the jaw
  • Promote healing of the jaw

A study conducted in 2010 revealed that compared to using mouth guards in TMJ disc placement patients, TMJ exercises increase your mouth opening range more. This article rounded up some of the most effective TMJ pain relief exercises. While some of them have frequency recommendations, some do not. If the latter is the case, seek guidance from your dentist or doctor.

Relaxed Jaw Exercises

Gently place your tongue on the roof of the mouth behind the upper front teeth. As you relax the jaw muscles, let your teeth come apart.

Partial Opening Goldfish Exercises

Position your tongue at the top of your mouth with a finger at your ear’s front–the TMJ’s point of location. Proceed to place your middle finger on the chin, then drop the lower jaw halfway before closing it. Expect to feel slight resistance but not pain. Alternatively, you could place a finger on each TMJ before dropping the lower jaw halfway and closing it. Our dentist at Tarpon Shores Dental recommends doing this exercise six times every day.

Full Opening Goldfish Exercises

With your tongue at the top of your mouth, place a finger on the chin and another on your TMJ. After that, drop the lower jaw and close it again. Repeat this six times daily. Another way to do this is by placing a finger on each TMJ while you drop and close your lower jaw.

Chin Tucks

Stand chest out and shoulders back and pull back your chin to create a double chin. Remain in this position for about three seconds. Repeat this exercise ten times a day.

Resisted Mouth Opening

Place your thumb underneath the chin, then proceed to slowly open your mouth while pushing against the chin for resistance. Hold for at least three seconds before closing your mouth.

Resisted Mouth Closure

Using your thumb and index finger, squeeze the chin. Attempt to close the mouth while placing a little pressure on the chin. This helps strengthen your chewing muscles.

Tongue Up

With the tongue resting at the top of your mouth, open and close the mouth slowly.

Diagnosis and Treatment of TMJ Disorders

Before diagnosing you with TMD, your dentist in Englewood, FL, will feel and listen to your jaw as you close and open your mouth, observe its range of motion, and press on areas around it to identify any discomfort or pain. In case they suspect any problems, your doctor may order a dental x-ray, CT scan, or MRI.

As for treatment, you may be prescribed some medications or non-drug therapies. If these fail, the dentist may recommend surgery.

Other Ways to Deal with TMJ Pain

Over-the-counter pain relievers can handle temporomandibular pain. In the case of severe pain, muscle relaxers will come in handy. Dr. Amy Valenti may also recommend:

  • Mouthguards to prevent bruxism
  • Mouthguards for jaw realignment purposes
  • Ice
  • Warm towels
  • Acupuncture

For damaged joints that may cause severe pain, more invasive treatments are recommended. Surgery can only be considered as a last option. Lifestyle changes can also keep the pain in check. They include:

  • Eating soft foods
  • Avoiding chewing gum
  • Avoiding nail biting
  • Practicing good posture
  • Limiting extreme jaw movements like singing and yawning
  • Relieving Pain during Oral Hygiene

People with TMJ disorders have a hard time practicing primary dental care. Here are tips to ease the pain and maintain healthy gums and teeth:

  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Use water floss in case you are unable to open the mouth
  • Use antiseptic mouthwashes
  • Inform the dental team if you’re experiencing pain during a procedure
  • Discuss with your dentist alternative ways to eliminate plaque apart from flossing