Did you know that over 10 million Americans have Temporomandibular joint and muscle (TMJ) disorders?
If you’re one of these people, you might find TMJ inconvenient at best and excruciating at worst. Sometimes, medicine can’t relieve the pain, especially when you developed tolerance to painkillers. It can become unbearable, affecting your ability to function daily.
Don’t give up just yet.
We put together a guide about TMJ pain relief exercises that can help you. This includes jaw stretching, and other management tips to deal with TMJ every day.
1. Relaxed Jaw Exercise
What is TMJ pain? Your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the joint that connects your skull to the lower jaw. Sometimes, your habits could cause slight pain or even dislocation. A few TMJ pain relief exercises can help remove the pain.
Relaxing your jaw is a simple exercise where you rest your tongue gently on the top of your mouth. Ensure that it’s behind your upper front teeth. While relaxing your jaw muscles, enable your teeth to come apart to ensure maximum pain relief.
2. Goldfish Exercises (Partial Opening)
In this exercise, put your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Place a finger before your ear since it’s where you’ll find the TMJ. Put either your middle or index finger on your chin.
Once everything is in position, drop your lower jaw halfway. Close it, ensuring that you won’t feel pain except for mild resistance. This exercise has six repetitions in one set, and you need six sets each day to feel constant pain relief.
A good variation of the goldfish exercise is to put a finger on each TMJ. Do this while dropping your lower jaw halfway and closing repeatedly. Check which method works best for your situation and stick with it.
3. Goldfish Exercises (Full Opening)
Place a finger on your TMJ and another on your chin. Do this while your tongue is touching the roof of your mouth. Once in position, drop your lower jaw as far as possible and back.
This exercise variation requires a finger on each TMJ while dropping your lower jaw in its entirety and back. Repeat this six times per set, and do six sets per day to get the most out of it.
4. Chin Tucks
This is a simple exercise, making it a good choice when you’re at work and your TMJ acts up. Pull your chin straight back, which makes a “double chin”. Do this with your shoulders back and your chest up and maintain it for three seconds.
Repeat this exercise 10 times to feel palpable relief.
5. Resisted Mouth Opening
To do this exercise, put your thumber underneath your chin. Open your mouth and push your thumb gently against your chin to feel the resistance. Do it slowly and hold the position for 3-6 seconds before closing your mouth.
6. Resisted Mouth Closing
For TMJ exercises, complementary exercises are important. It’s important to do this mouth closing exercise as a follow-up to the one above. Squeeze your chin using your index finger and thumb.
Do this on both sides of your chin. Close your mouth while gently pressuring your chin. The goal of this exercise is to strengthen the muscle groups you need for chewing.
7. Tongue Up
Another easy exercise, it starts by letting your tongue touch the roof of your mouth. Open and close your mouth slowly while holding that position. Repeat it a couple of times before finishing.
8. Side-to-Side Jaw Movement
This exercise needs an object with a quarter-inch thickness, like a stacked tongue depressor. Put it in between your front teeth and move your jaw from one side to the other. Do it slowly to ensure comfort.
Once the object becomes easier to handle, start going up. Increase the object’s thickness to strengthen your jaw even more. It’s easy to do since you can stack these objects on top of each other.
9. Forward Jaw Movement
Like the side-to-side jaw exercises, forward jaw movement exercises need a quarter-inch object between your front teeth. The difference is when moving your bottom jaw forward in a way that your bottom teeth are more forward than the top.
Increase the object thickness if you feel the exercise becoming easier. That way, your jaw strength grows. It lessens your discomfort when chewing in the long run.
10. Lifestyle Change
Aside from jaw exercises for TMJ, you can manage the pain by simple changes to your lifestyle. A good place to start is to change your diet plan. Eat softer foods since this will enable your TMJ to relax more.
Some habits should also go out of the window if you want your TMJ pain to stop. Simple ones like chewing gum, biting nails, and lower lip biting contribute to exacerbating your TMJ disorder. With bad posture, you’ll end up experiencing more pain.
Also, be conscious of your jaw movements. Limit larger movements. That means limiting your yawns and singing.
How to Reduce TMJ Pain When Practicing Oral Hygiene
TMJ disorders prevent you from practicing basic oral care without pain. Regardless of whether it’s brushing your teeth, flossing, or dental checkups, the discomfort is daunting. The good news is that pain prevention isn’t complex.
When brushing, ensure that you’re using either a soft-bristled toothbrush or a sonic toothbrush. If you can’t open your mouth while flossing, use water flossers or a rubber tip stimulator.
Use an antiseptic mouth rinse to strengthen your daily dental care routine. If you’re going to the dentist, tell them when the dental procedure gets painful. After that, apply either ice or heat to relieve the pain.
Don’t hesitate and talk to your dentist about your options. They’ll most likely come up with ways to get rid of plaque without flossing. For example, you could use cotton gauze to wipe your teeth instead.
Try Some TMJ Pain Relief Exercises Today!
These are good TMJ pain relief exercises you can try if you’re in pain. They’re simple to do, even if you’re working. Try changing your lifestyle to make the most out of these exercises.
Of course, these aren’t the only health tips we have to offer. To continue reading more useful tips like these, feel free to go over our other blog posts and guides right here, today!