The temporomandibular joints are responsible for connecting the jawbone to the skull and ensuring the mouth opens and closes properly. When these joints are working properly, people rarely think about them, but they quickly become impossible to ignore when they aren’t. TMJ pain is disruptive and uncomfortable. Jaw injuries, inflammation, and overuse are all reasons a person may experience jaw pain.
These symptoms could be a sign of a serious issue like TMJ disorder. It’s important that people who experience TMJ pain visit with an oral surgeon to have the jaw and temporomandibular joints examined.
Regardless of the cause of your TMJ pain, an oral surgeon will recommend nonsurgical treatments first. This will likely include several jaw exercises.
If you’re experiencing jaw pain, try relieving it with these six exercises:
Relaxed jaw exercise
The goal of this exercise is to relax the jaw muscles. Simply touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth, behind the upper front teeth. Let your bottom teeth to move away from the top ones slowly, as wide as possible, and hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
There are two Goldfish exercises to help strengthen the TMJs:
- Partial opening: Again, put your tongue on the top of your mouth. Put one finger on your chin and another on your TMJ (in front of your ear). Lower the bottom jaw halfway, then close. Remember to rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Your fingers should create a tiny bit of resistance. Do this six times, six times per day.
- Complete opening: Do the same thing with your tongue and gingers but drop your bottom jaw completely. Again, do this in sets of six, six times a day.
With proper posture, bring your chin straight back. When you look like you have a double chin, you know you’re doing it right.
Hold that position for three seconds and do the exercise ten times total.
Jaw resistance exercises
The following exercises help strengthen the muscles that assist with chewing.
Resisted opening: Press your thumb underneath your chin and slowly open your mouth. Be sure to create resistance with your thumb and hold the position for six seconds before slowly closing your mouth.
Resisted closing: With both hands, place your pointer fingers on top of your chin (in the crease) and thumbs underneath. Open your mouth, then squeeze as you close it.
To complete this exercise, simply touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth and slowly expand and contract your jaw.
Jaw movement exercises
Side-to-side: To begin this exercise, you’ll need an object that is ¼ inch thick. Hold the object with your front teeth, and slide your jaw from left to right. As the exercise becomes easier, increase the depth of the object.
Forward: Follow the same directions above but move the bottom jaw forward until the bottom teeth protrude out from the top teeth.
Receive Expert Care for TMJ Pain
While these exercises are effective in many cases, they aren’t always a long-term solution. It’s important for people with TMJ pain to visit an oral surgeon as soon as possible to learn about the best treatment options for their situation.
In addition to these exercises, an oral surgeon may recommend orthodontic treatment, occlusal splint therapy, occlusal rehabilitation, and/or surgical intervention.
To meet with one of the best oral surgeons in the North Texas area, Dr. Chris Tye, call (817) 552-3223 today.