Fix Your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction With These 8 Best Exercises

People usually don’t think much about temporomandibular joints (TMJ), although we use them a lot in our day-to-day activities. It is a joint that connects the jawbone to your skull. Your temporomandibular joints come into action every time you talk, swallow, and chew.

Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) dysfunction occurs when something goes wrong with your jaw joints and muscles. Usually, this happens because of an injury, inflammations, such as arthritis, or overuse.

Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) dysfunction can result in mild to moderate symptoms, such as:-

  • Feeling pain while chewing
  • Headaches
  • Feeling pain in the ear, face, jaw, and neck
  • Experiencing clicking, grating, or popping sounds in the jaw while moving your jaw
  • Locking of the jaw joint

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Basic Exercises To Fix Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) Dysfunction.

It’s still not clear how some of the TMJ exercises can help you relieve pain. Here are some positive results of the exercise that lowers the complications:-

  • Strengthen your jaw muscles and jaw
  • Relaxes the jaw
  • Increases jaw mobility
  • Reduces jaw clicking sound
  • Promote the healing process of the jaw

As per a study in 2010 reported in the Journal of Dental Research, performing TMJ exercises helps to increase the mouth opening range, especially in people with TMJ disc displacement.

The below-mentioned eight exercises from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the Royal Surrey County Hospital may help you get relief from TMJ pain improving jaw movement. 

Do know about these exercises and consult this with you as different exercises need different frequent recommendations, especially for those whose frequency recommendations aren’t available.

Simple jaw exercise:

Place your tongue gently above your mouth behind your upper front teeth. Try your teeth to keep apart while relaxing your jaw muscles.

Goldfish exercises (partial opening):

Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and put one finger in front of your ear where your Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located. Put your middle or pointer finger of another hand on your chin. Open your lower jaw halfway and then close it.

You might feel a mild resistance but not pain. Keep varying the exercise by placing one finger on each TMJ as you open your lower jaw half and then close it again. Try performing this exercise one set at a time six times daily.

Goldfish exercises (full opening):

Place your tongue on the rooftop of your mouth, put one finger on your Temporomandibular joints (TMJ), and another finger on your chin. Drop your lower jaw altogether and back. 

For a change in the exercise, place one finger on each side of TMJ as you completely drop your lower jaw and back. Try performing this exercise one set at a time six times daily.

Chin tucks:

Stretch your shoulders towards your back and chest forward, try pulling your chin straight back, creating a “double chin.” Remain in this position for at least three seconds and repeat the exercise 10 times a day.

Resisted opening of the mouth:

Put your thumb under your chin. Slowly open your mouth, push it gently against your chin for resistance. Remain in this position for 3-6 seconds, and slowly close your mouth.

Resisted closing of the mouth:

Try squeezing your chin with your index finger and thumb. Gently close your mouth and apply pressure on your chin. This will give strength to your muscles, making your chewing process easy.

Tounge Up:

This exercise is very simple, you have to place your tongue touching the roof of your mouth and slowly move(open and close) your jaw.

Side-to-side jaw movement:

Try putting a ¼ inch object like stacked tongue depressors between your front jaws, and slowly move your jaw sidewise. With time you will exercise easily. After some days, try increasing the object’s thickness between your teeth, increasing the difficulty and jaw strength.

Other Ways To Manage The Pain

Stretching exercises can help you get relief from Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) pain by reducing muscle and joint tension by offering longer-term relief.

Put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Try opening your mouth as wide as possible for you, hold this position for 5-10 seconds.

Open your mouth slowly as wide as you are comfortable with your tongue in a neutral position. Remain in this position for 5-10 seconds, then close it. Next, slightly open your mouth and slide your lower jaw back and forth 5-10 times.

Close your mouth, keeping your head facing straight ahead. Try to keep your eyes on the right side. Extend your lower jaw to the left and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat these instructions on the opposite side too.

Place a thin object, such as a stacked tongue depressor between your front jaws, and slowly move your jaw sidewise. With time you will exercise easily. After some days, try increasing the object’s thickness between your teeth, increasing the difficulty and jaw strength.

After some time you will find these activities easy and then use wider objects to separate their front and back teeth.

Best Way To Deal With It At An Early Stage

People should brush and clean their teeth regularly every 12 hours. Try to visit your dentist regularly every 6 months unless recommended otherwise. In form of your dentist if you have any Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) pain.

Additionally, there are other methods for preventing TMJ pain, such as:-

  • Avoiding chewing gum, taffy, and other very chewy or hard foods
  • Eating soft food, particularly if prone to TMJ pain
  • Not chewing on the mouth or tongue
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Julain Carter is mental health expert for Goodrxmedicine.com. He is an experienced clinical mental health counsellor with recognition in cognitive behavioural therapy. Julian’s sharp behavioural observations reflect in both his personal and professional life.