Not everyone is familiar with their temporomandibular joints (TMJ), but people use them often. These joints connect a person’s jawbone (mandible) to their skull’s base, and it springs to action when an individual is talking, swallowing, or chewing. Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) occur when something happens to your jaw’s joints and muscles due to overuse, injury, or inflammation.
TMD can cause mild to severe symptoms, including pain while chewing, popping sounds when you close or open your mouth, and lockjaw. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it can be challenging to pinpoint your condition because several ailments can also cause similar symptoms, including gum disease or tooth decay.
That’s why it’s best to visit an oral surgeon to help you figure out what’s causing the symptoms. However, to help you out, here are seven of the best exercises to relieve TMJ pain and improve your mandible joints’ movement.
Chin tucks are an excellent exercise that helps relieve TMJ pain while helping stretch your deepest neck muscles. Do this by standing straight with a neutral posture and pull your chin straight back. Hold the position for at least three seconds. For the best results, repeat this exercise ten times.
Manual Jaw Opening
Stand straight and repeat small mouth opening and closing movements a few times to warm-up. After you feel your jaws relaxing, place your fingers on top of the four teeth at the bottom, then pull down until you feel the side of your mandible tighten. Hold the position for half a minute and release your jaw back from its initial position slowly. For optimal results, repeat this exercise 3 to 12 times.
Stand straight with a neutral position, let your tongue touch your mouth’s roof while slowly opening and closing it. It’s best to repeat this exercise three times to ease TMJ pain completely.
Side to Side Jaw Movement
Place a stacked tongue depressor or any ¼ inch clean object between your front teeth, then start moving your jaw from side to side. As you gradually get used to the exercise and it’s become easy for you, increase the object’s thickness between your front teeth, or stack several tongue depressors on top of one another.
Forward Jaw Movement
Place a tongue depressor or any sterile ¼ inch object between your front teeth and start moving your jaw forward, allowing your bottom teeth to get in front of your top teeth. As the exercises gradually become more comfortable for you, use a thicker object between your teeth for better results.
Partial Opening Goldfish Mouth Exercise
Put your tongue on your mouth’s roof, a finger in the ear near the TMJ, and your middle finger on the chin. Start the exercise by dropping your jaw halfway and close it, and you should be able to fill mild resistance with no pain. Perform this exercise six times in one session for optimal results.
Full Opening Goldfish Mouth Exercise
Place your tongue on your mouth’s roof, a finger in the ear where your TMJ is, and a pointer finger on your chin. Start by dropping your jaw entirely and close it back. For the best results, perform this exercise six times in one session.
In most cases, TMD goes away on its own. However, if your symptoms persist, the exercises we’ve listed can help relieve pain. Never do these exercises when you’re in severe pain, and it’s best to wait until your pain subsides lightly before incorporating these TMJ exercises to your workout regime.