Pain-Relieving Exercises for TMJ Disorders
To understand TMJ disorders, you have first to understand your temporomandibular joints. These joints serve as a connection between your jawbone and skull. The joints function every time you chew, talk, or swallow.
As you would have guessed, TMJ disorders are a result of issues in your jaw muscles and jaw joints. Often, the cause may be inflammation, e.g., arthritis, injury to the jaw, or overuse.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
They range from mild to debilitating.
- Experiencing pain during chewing
- Pain in your face, ear, neck, and jaw
- Popping, grating or clicking sounds whenever you close or open your mouth
- Jaw joint locking
Exercises for Relieving TMJ Pain
The pain-relieving characteristics of TMJ exercises are not yet clear. The exercises are however claimed to:
- Strengthen the jaw muscles
- Relax your jaw
- Stretch your jaw
- Increase your jaw mobility
- Reduce clicking of the jaw
- Promote healing of the jaw
A study was conducted in 2010 and published by the Journal of Dental Research. It concluded that in people suffering from TMJ disc displacement, TMJ exercises increase the opening range of the mouth more compared to using mouth guards.
We compiled a list of exercises from the Royal Surrey County Hospital and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), which may relieve TMJ-related pain and improve the jaw joints’ movement. Some of these exercises come with frequency recommendations. For those lacking, ask for guidance from your dentist or doctor.
The exercise requires you to place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind the front teeth on the upper jaw. As you relax your jaw muscles, let your teeth come apart.
Goldfish (Partial Opening)
Place the tongue on the top of the mouth. Put a finger at your ear front at the location of your TMJ. Place the pointer or middle finger against your chin. Drop the lower jaw halfway, then close. You should expect some mild resistance. However, no pain will be felt. Alternatively, you can place a finger on each of the TMJs, then drop the lower jaw halfway and close. Consider doing this six times per set. Six sets daily will yield great results.
Goldfish (Full Opening)
With your tongue still on your mouth roof, place a finger against your chin and another on the TMJ. Completely drop the lower jaw and back. Alternatively, you can place your fingers on the two TMJs and completely drop the lower jaw then back. To achieve a set, do this six times.
Push your shoulders back and puff your chest out. While still in this position, create a double chin by pulling your chin back. Stay this way for about three seconds, then repeat at least ten times.
Resisted Mouth Opening
Direct your thumb beneath the chin. Slowly open the mouth. While doing so, gently push against the chin to create some resistance. Stay this way for around six seconds, then slowly close your mouth.
Resisted Mouth Closing
Using one hand, squeeze the chin with your thumb and index. Close your mouth, and while doing so, apply a little pressure on the chin. This helps strengthen the muscles that aid in chewing.
With the tongue lying at the top of your mouth, gradually open your mouth and close it.
Alternative Ways of Dealing with TMJ Pain
Apart from the exercises mentioned above, there are many methods used in TMJ treatment in Webster. Your dentist may prescribe some pain relievers for mild pain and muscle relaxers for more severe pain. Your doctor may recommend the following:
- Mouthguards for prevention of jaw clenching and teeth grinding
- Mouthguards to aid in jaw realignment
- Warm towels
- Ice (as long as it is not applied on the skin directly)
- Acupuncture for pressure relieve
Damaged joints may cause severe pain, which may call for more invasive treatments. Corticosteroid injections to the TMJ are examples of such. As a last option, you may consider surgery. By making a little adjustment to your lifestyle, you can manage TMJ pain. It may be a good idea to
- Eat soft foods so the TMJ may relax.
- Avoid chewing gums
- Stop nail-biting habits
- Practice a good posture
- Limit the movement of your jaws.
At Sapphire Smile, we are passionate about your overall dental health. Once you experience any signs of TMJ disorders, do not hesitate to look for TMJ treatment near you. Are you in need of TMJ treatment in Webster, TX? Call us today and book an appointment.