Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) is characterized by pain, tenderness, and problems with movement of the temporomandibular joints and chewing muscles that allow you to open or close the mouth. These joints in front of the ears attach the lower jaw to the skull and control the movements of the mouth. Treatment usually begins with methods of managing pain by addressing sources of stress and tension, as this dysfunction is primarily a psychophysiological disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy, diet changes, pain relievers, cold compresses, and local physiotherapy are often used to treat it. By doing jaw exercises that improve mobility and strengthen and relax the jaw, you can increase blood flow and oxygen to the joints and relieve symptoms of TMJ disorder. Although it is not possible to cure this disorder, the exercises will help you manage it effectively so that you can live a normal day-to-day life.
Method 1 of 3: Strengthen your jaw
Step 1. Apply resistance by opening your mouth
You may be able to relieve the symptoms of the disorder by strengthening your jawbone. Place two fingers under your chin and press gently while forcing with the jaw as you open your mouth. Repeat this exercise six times per session, doing six sessions per day.
Never force yourself if you experience pain or discomfort while exercising, especially during resistance exercise. If the pain is severe, ask your dentist or doctor for advice
Step 2. Press while closing your mouth
Open your mouth and put two fingers under the lower lip. Press gently to apply slight resistance while closing your mouth. This helps strengthen the jaw muscles and relieve TMJ. Do this exercise six times per session, six sessions per day.
Step 3. Tuck in your chin
Stand up straight and tuck your chin towards your torso as if you were trying to bring out your double chin. Hold the position for three seconds. This helps strengthen the muscles around the TMJ and relieve the strain on the joint a bit. Repeat this exercise ten times a day.
Method 2 of 3: Relax the jaw
Step 1. Keep the teeth as loose as possible
This helps relieve the pressure on your jaw. Put your tongue between your teeth to control the pressure you put on it during the day. When you go to bed, try to relax your jaw and not clench your teeth. Ask your dentist if you shouldn't be wearing a mouthguard overnight.
Step 2. Open and close the jaw
Push the tongue against the palate as you open and close it. By relaxing it, you will relieve the tension that builds up there. It is also an essential part of training your muscles. Push the tongue against the palate just behind the front teeth. Drop the jaw to relax the muscles. It is not necessary to keep it in the open position, just repeat this exercise six times per session, six sessions per day.
Step 3. Try the “goldfish exercises”
Even though goldfish don't really strain their jaw to open it, the exercises named after them can help relieve some of the pressure in the TMJ. Place two fingers on the TMJ (you can find it because it is where you feel the discomfort in the jaw joint near the ear). Then put a finger of your other hand on the chin. Open your mouth while lightly pressing down on the ATM. Repeat this exercise six times per session, six sessions per day.
Do not press on the chin while opening your mouth. This exercise relaxes the jaw, not strengthens it
Step 4. Try to tuck your chin in
You can also try tucking your chin in to relax the jaw. Keep the shoulders back and the torso rounded, then lower the jaw as if to make a "double chin". Hold the position for three seconds. Then release and repeat ten times.
Step 5. Breathe to release the tension
Stress can cause the jaw to tighten, which will make the condition of TMJ worse. Practice breathing slowly through your nose for five seconds, then completely release the tension in your jaw. As you exhale, hold for five seconds, try to relax your jaw even more, and make sure you focus on all the muscles you use to chew. You can repeat this exercise as often as you want.
Method 3 of 3: Increase jaw mobility
Step 1. Do a simple exercise
Place an object between your teeth to strengthen the jaw with a forward motion. Find one about 1 cm thick, for example a wooden stick, and put it between the top and bottom teeth. Orient the object so that the length extends beyond your mouth rather than out to the sides. Now move the lower jaw forward to try and point the object towards the ceiling. When you get to grips with an object without a problem, gradually increase its thickness to achieve fuller movement.
- Try to find an object that is made to be put in the mouth, like the example above. There are other things you might want to put in your mouth that could damage your teeth while exercising, so be careful.
- Repeat this exercise as many times as needed when you feel you need more mobility.
Step 2. Do the same exercise on the sides
Find an object about 1 cm thick and place it between your teeth, but this time, horizontally. Move the lower teeth to one side, then the other instead of moving them forward. This improves the lateral mobility of the jaw.
Do these kinds of exercises when you are in pain or when you feel that your jaw is losing mobility
Step 3. Improve your posture
Many individuals have their heads slightly stretched forward when walking. This causes misalignment of the spine, which makes the TMJ disorder worse. Stand against a wall and tuck your chin in, bringing the jaw towards your torso while squeezing the shoulder blades together. This allows the spine to be stretched into a more neutral position which will relieve symptoms of TMJ and improve jaw mobility.
- Keep the tongue relaxed against the palate by loosening the teeth slightly. This will allow you to relax your jaw if it is too tight.
- Moist heat, such as a warm, wet washcloth, applied to the jaw can help relieve this kind of pain.
- Set an alarm to go off every hour to remind you to loosen your teeth and relax your jaw.
- To reduce the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ, eat soft foods, do not chew gum, or bite your nails.
- You could cause or worsen TMJ symptoms if you clench your jaw or grind your teeth. Consult your dentist for a suitable mouthguard if this is your case.
- Excessive stress can also cause TMJ disorder. Get plenty of exercise and try your hand at meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques to reduce your stress.