5 Easy TMJ Pain Relief Exercises and Stretches
It is estimated that over 10 million people suffer from TMJ disorder. If you found this page, you are probably one of them. In this article we will cover what TMJ disorder is and some TMJ pain relief exercises that you can do at home to help relieve your TMJ pain.
What is TMJ?
TMJ is an abbreviation that stands for the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull and in turn helps the jaw to function through easy movement. It is also commonly used as an abbreviation for TMJ syndrome/disorder/disease, a medical condition that affects the temporomandibular joint.
What is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder is a condition where the jaw stiffens and gets sore due to any number of causes, making primary functions such as talking, chewing and yawning painful.
The symptoms of TMJ vary from jaw locking to jaw popping, besides shooting pains in the surrounding musculoskeletal system due to immobility of the jaw.
TMJ is seen more in women than in men aged between 20-40 years. TMJ causes can range from bad posture, elevated stress, unhealthy habits such as grinding and clenching of teeth (which lead to wear and tear), a bad blow to the jaw or even spine-related ailments.
TMJ pain affects more than just the jawline and facial muscles, but may also cause other side effects like ear pain, constant headaches or pain in the neck and shoulders.
Exercises and Natural Cures Offer Relief for TMJ Symptoms
TMJ disorder treatments include basic remedies such as facial muscle relaxation techniques using heat and ice packs as well as the use of customized oral appliances, which are devices that provide adequate rest to the jaw and allow it to heal. Alteration in eating habits also becomes essential as certain nutritional deficiencies may aggravate the condition.
The ultimate TMJ pain treatment involves a holistic approach which includes natural remedies for TMJ, from changing basic lifestyle and eating habits to incorporating jaw exercises and facial muscle relaxation techniques. Exercise helps by increasing blood flow and oxygen to facial joints and muscles, which help to strengthen and heal the jaw.
Let’s take a look at some common exercises and relaxation techniques for TMJ pain relief.
TMJ pain relief exercises mainly include jaw-related exercises that need to be carried out on a regular basis to help increase resistance and strengthen the joint. Here are a few exercises that help to make jaw movement easy and painless, if carried out correctly:
- Opening Jaw Resistance Training – Start by placing the tip of your thumb right under the center of your chin. Open the mouth and lower your jaw steadily, while applying slight pressure to the bottom of the chin with your thumb. Stay in that position for about 3-6 seconds and then close the mouth. Repeat at least 6 times.
- Closing Jaw Resistance Training – In this exercise, your index finger needs to be placed on the center of your chin with your thumb on the bottom of the chin, almost as if you’re holding your chin with finger and thumb. Then, repeat the exercise listed above while applying pressure as the mouth closes.
- Tongue to Roof of Mouth – Put the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, and then slowly open and close your mouth. Repeat this as many times as possible every day for best results.
Facial Muscle Relaxing Exercises
Since the TMJ is surrounded by facial muscles, TMJ disorder can cause these muscles to ache and tense up. The following are a few tips and techniques that are proven to help with facial muscle relaxation:
- Heat and Ice Packs – Every individual is different, thus the efficacy of either heated towels or ice packs may vary from person to person. These techniques help to bring down any facial muscle swelling and pain a great deal, as they increase blood flow.
- Jaw Massage – Gently massaging the jaw helps to alleviate soreness and release any strain that is built up in the facial muscles. Simply rest your fingers on your cheek (between the temporal bone and the lower jaw), and gently massage it.
Antibiotics and pain killers also help with TMJ pain relief but their effect only lasts for a limited time, and goes hand-in-hand with troublesome side effects.
TMJ specialists typically recommend TMJ pain relief exercises for patients wondering how to treat TMJ naturally, as well as dietary changes or medication for pain relief, so consult a medical professional at the earliest!
For other dental tips and advice, be sure to visit Toothbrush Life.
Author Bio: Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Smile Clinic. While working for the Smile Clinic, he’s gained first hand experiences into the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he’s not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or having a Sunday cook-out with friends.
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.