Table of Contents
More than 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorders. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to the skull. TMJ is a disorder that causes pain to your jaw and ear area.
Don’t worry—there are ways you can relieve this pain. The pain may subside on its own, but this can take time. In the meantime, why not try some TMJ stretches today and get some much-needed relief?
But first, let’s learn some more about TMJ.
What Causes TMJ?
The pain from TMJ disorders comes from a disc that cushions the joint. This joint helps the jaw close, open, and move. Problems with the muscles around the joints or the joint itself cause this pain.
Luckily, this pain is usually temporary with flare-ups that come and go. The pain can be chronic or progressive.
So, what causes TMJ pain? The most common causes include:
- Teeth clenching and grinding
- Muscle tension
- Improper jaw alignment
- Dislocated joint
If you have TMJ pain, you may even hear a clicking noise when the joint moves. Determining the cause of your pain is the key to getting the proper treatment plan for long-lasting relief.
The Best TMJ Stretches for Relief
TMJ exercises may help relieve pain by strengthening your jaw muscles, relaxing your jaw, and stretching your jaw. These jaw exercises for TMJ may also reduce jaw clicking and improve your jaw mobility.
A study found that doing these exercises can improve your mouth opening range more so than wearing a mouthpiece. You must talk to your doctor or dentist about the frequency of these exercises.
Remember, it’s important to start slowly, and if something is painful, stop right away. These exercises are easy to do throughout the day while sitting at your desk at work, watching tv, or on a drive.
1. Resisted Opening
Start this exercise by opening your mouth slowly. Put your thumb under your chin and push lightly to put a little tension as you open. Hold this position for a couple of seconds and then slowly close your mouth.
2. Resisted Closing
This is the opposite of the exercise above. Put your thumb underneath your chin and also place your index finger between your bottom lip and chin. Press lightly as you close your mouth to add a slight amount of tension.
3. Moving Jaw Side-to-Side
Use a small object like a tongue depression and put it between your top and bottom front teeth. Move your jaw from side to side slowly.
After this becomes easier, use a larger and thicker object like a pen. Increasing the thickness of the object will add more tension and make the exercise tougher.
4. Moving Jaw Forward
Like the exercise above, put something between your top and bottom front teeth. The object should be about a quarter-inch thick. Move your jaw forward to make your bottom teeth move in front of your top teeth.
Hold this stretch for at least 20-25 seconds. Increase the thickness to make this exercise harder.
5. Relax Your Jaw
Put your tongue against the top of your mouth. Rest it there gently behind your upper front teeth. Let your teeth slowly come apart as you relax your jaw muscles.
6. Tuck Your Chin
Put your shoulders back and your chest up. Pull your chin back. Hold that stretch for a couple of seconds and repeat.
7. Wide Stretch
Close your mouth and relax your jaw. Opening your mouth slowly as you pull your teeth apart.
Open your mouth as wide as you can and hold for about 5-10 seconds. Slowly close your mouth and repeat a few times.
8. Use Slight Pressure
Open your mouth as wide as you can without any pain. Use your right hand to slowly push and add pressure to the right side of your jaw, moving it slowly. Hold this for about 10 seconds and then return your jaw to the middle.
Do the same thing on the other side.
9. Massage Your Jaw
Go along the hinge of your jaw. Massage the muscles using a downward motion. Make sure that you move slowly.
Other Ways to Get Relief
In addition to these exercises, you can try other methods for relief. When pain is severe, hold an ice pack to the area for about 20 minutes. You may even want to consider alternating cold and hot with a heating pad.
You can also use over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen. This will only provide temporary relief.
If you experience a lot of stress and anxiety, try to control it as much as possible. This can cause you to tense your muscles and make the pain worse.
Try to massage your neck and head to relieve tension. If teeth grinding is causing your pain, talk to your dentist about using a bite splint at night to prevent clenching and grinding.
You must take care of your teeth to prevent additional pain from TMJ disorders. You want to make sure your teeth stay properly aligned and prevent gum inflammation, cavities, and broken teeth to avoid making your pain worse.
You may want to avoid hard and chewy foods such as gum and taffy while your jaw is sore. Chew with both sides of your mouth even though you want to avoid the pain on one side because over time this pain could get worse.
When brushing your teeth, use a soft bristle brush. Be careful not to open your mouth too wide.
Get Relief Today
Try these TMJ stretches today to get relief from your pain. Talk to your doctor and dentist to help you get the right treatment plan and determine what is causing your pain.
Looking for other advice like this to help relieve any aches and pains or just about health in general? Keep checking out articles in our Health and Medical sections to help you live a healthy life.