Pain Relief Exercises for TMJ Disorder
There can be many reasons for the disorder that causes Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain in your jaws. One of the most stated reasons why they occur can be the teeth grinding at night. A Chicago Dental Society survey states that over 25 percent of Americans are destroying their teeth and developing jaw disorders just by teeth clenching and grinding. Other reasons for TMJ disorder can be an injury, or an inflammation such as with arthritis, and overuse or over stretching of jaws. Dentists suggest some pain relief exercises for TMJ disorder/dislocation that can help relocate the affected jaw muscles and ease the pain.
Jaw Exercises for TMJ Disorder
TMJ exercises can be categorized into mainly three categories: strengthening, stretching, and relaxation exercises. Take a look at each of them to know how they can help relieve TMJ pain and improve the movement of your jaws:
Jaw Strengthening Exercises: These exercises involve opening and closing your mouth while placing some amount of resistance on your chin.
Relaxing your jaws: Rest your tongue gently on the top of your mouth behind your upper front teeth. Allow your teeth to come apart while relaxing your jaw muscles.
Partially open your mouth:Everything will be same as in the jaw relaxing exercise except that you put a finger in front of your right ear where your TMJ is located, and another finger on your chin. What you have to do here is to drop your lower jaw halfway and then close. Rotate your set by putting one finger in front of your left ear. Do each set six times daily.
Resisted opening: Place your thumb under your chin and then slowly push your chin against it to open the mouth. Open the mouth slightly, to only that extent where you don’t feel any pain, and hold it there for 5-6 seconds. After that close your mouth slowly. Repeat this for 5-6 times.
Resisted closing: Squeeze your chin with your index and thumb of one or both hands, then stretch it down. While stretching, your mouth will open but you have to resist its opening. This will help strengthen your muscles that help you chew.
Jaw Stretching Exercises: These exercises involve gentle stretching of jaw and joint areas. The focus should be on moving the jaw on its own as much as possible without causing yourself discomfort.
Side-to-side movement: Open your mouth slightly, and slowly push on the right side of your jaw using your right hand. Hold in position for 10 seconds and return it to the normal. Rotate your side and do it for 2-3 times each side.
Forward jaw movement: Put your index finger on your chin and apply a very slight pressure to push it backwards. While pushing, move your bottom jaw forward so that your bottom teeth are in front of the top teeth.
Pencil or pen exercise: You can do the upper two exercises with the help of a pencil or a pen with a width of 1.5 inch. In the first case, you can keep the pencil in between your top and bottom teeth and move your jaws side-to-side. While in the second case, while keeping the pencil in same position, you can move your bottom jaw forward so that your bottom teeth comes in front of the top teeth.
Jaw Relaxation Exercise: Apart from stretching and strengthening, your jaws also need to relax. One way to allow the TMJ to relax is to eat a soft diet, and to avoid chewing gum, biting your nails and your lower lip, or to limit large jaw movements, such as yawning and singing. Other ways for jaw relaxing exercises are:
Massage the muscles: Trace the hinge of your jaw and massage the muscles with a downward motion. Do the massage gently, and not by pressing or pushing the muscles hardly. Going the hard way can create greater tension in muscles that may lead to pain.
Breathing exercise: Do the inhaling and exhaling exercise. Inhale slowly but fully, for a count of 5 or 10, then slowly exhale with the same count. This will help you relax greatly.
While it’s unclear how TMJ exercises may relieve pain, they are said to help:
- In strengthening and stretching of the jaw muscles
- Relaxing the jaw and increasing its mobility
- Reducing jaw clicking thereby promoting jaw healing
Learning how to reduce the amount of stress in your jaws can go a long way towards easing any TMJ-related discomfort.