These Simple Exercises Will Help You Get TMJ Relief

Jaw pain comes in many sizes – ranging from mild to almost unbearable. There are several causes and they are treatable, but, in many cases, pain in your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) will go away on its own in a couple of months. You may be able to speed up jaw pain relief if you learn a few TMJ exercises and practice them.

The Causes of TMJ Pain

Pain in your jaw joint can be caused by a wide variety of things. They may include:
  • An injury or blow to the jaw

  • An eroded joint from arthritis

  • The joint is no longer properly aligned

  • Infection in a tooth

In addition to the pain in the jaw joint, you may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Headaches

  • Earaches

  • Swelling in the neck or face

  • Locking of the jaw joint

TMJ Exercises

Jaw exercises have been found to help reduce jaw pain faster than some other methods. When starting out, be sure not to overdo it. Limit yourself to five minutes the first week, but do them twice a day. Your pain may actually increase a little at first but then will subside. After the first week, repeat these TMJ exercises as often as you are able.

  • Relaxed Jaw – Place your tongue behind your upper front teeth, and let your jaw drop slowly while you relax the muscles.

  • Goldfish Exercises – Place one finger on one TMJ and then place your tongue behind your front teeth. Then place one finger on your chin. Let your jaw drop halfway and then close your mouth. Repeat six times.

After performing this exercise a few days, follow the same instructions, but this time open your mouth as fully as possible and then close it again.

  • Resisted Opening – Put your thumb under your chin, then open your mouth slowly, resisting slightly. Hold it for three to six seconds and then close your mouth. Increase the pressure each week.

Follow the instructions above, but this time do the opposite. Grab your chin with both hands, open your mouth, and then close your mouth while resisting.

  • Jaw Slide – Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Slide your lower jaw forward as far as it will move, and then bring it back as far as it will go. Hold each position for 5 to 10 seconds.

  • Side to Side – Use a pencil or similar object and hold it between your teeth. Slide your jaw from one side to the other. Slowly increase the size of the object as it becomes easier.

Other Exercises That May Help

Since jaw pain can often be caused by stress, it is a good idea to do some things to reduce the stress in your life. A regular exercise program is one of the best things you can do for stress. Breathing exercises may also help, as well as a walk in the park, a warm bath, listening to music, and more.

Things Not to Do with Jaw Pain

  • Chew Gum

  • Bite your fingernails

  • Cradle your phone between your neck and jaw

  • Eat hard to chew foods

  • Wide yawning

  • Reduce talking

How to Treat Pain at Home

  • Use ice packs or heat

  • Over-the-counter medications – NSAIDs

  • Reduce stress – learn to relax

  • Eat soft foods – cut food into small pieces

Other Possible Problems

Depending on the problem, you may need to get a diagnosis from a dentist. There could be other problems that will require professional help. Other causes of jaw pain may include:
  • An infected tooth – This could be an abscessed tooth, which needs to be treated right away. In this case, the infection spreads from inside the tooth into the gums. From there it keeps on spreading. In extreme cases, it could be fatal.

  • Grinding or clenching your teeth – This problem places considerable pressure on the TMJ. Until these habits are reduced or even eliminated, the pain will likely continue. These habits are aggravated by stress. Many people with these problems also have sleep apnea.

  • Sleep apnea – Most people who have this problem do not know they have it. It is a breathing problem that needs correcting because of its potential medical complications (heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, etc.).

  • A damaged joint - The cartilage in the joint can become eroded or damaged. You may need to have the disc trimmed or shaped, or even replaced if severe damage has taken place.

  • Tumor in the joint – When diagnosing for TMJ, the dentist will be able to recognize a tumor in the joint.

If you have temporomandibular joint pain and are looking for TMJ treatment, you can contact Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He can provide you with a diagnosis and TMJ pain relief. A variety of solutions are available, depending on the cause. He has offices in the Carrollton, TX and Grapevine, TX areas. For a consultation with a TMJ specialist, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.