Ensuring your mouth, teeth, and jaw are in good health should be a priority. Unfortunately, clicking, popping, and overall discomfort in the jaw occurs in many people dealing with temporomandibular joint disorder. While surprising to hear, many people do not realize these symptoms stem from TMJ until after a visit to their dentist to diagnose pain. This pain can be so severe, emergency dental care may be necessary.
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, affects an estimated 10 million Americans. If you are dealing with the pain of TMJ, your dentist may suggest orthodontic treatment or surgery to realign your jaw. While effective, these treatments can be expensive, time-consuming, and invasive. Using this guide on simple jaw exercises, you can relieve your TMJ discomfort.
In many cases, TMJ stems from a misaligned bite. Overbites, underbites, and crossbites are common issues in children, teens, and adults, but as you age, you may not want to undergo orthodontic treatment.
To decrease the pain in an around your jaw, consider stretching your jaw into its proper position. Open your mouth wide and move your top and bottom jaw into an aligned position. Be sure your back, upper teeth match up with your back, bottom teeth. Hold the aligned position for 15 seconds before releasing. Repeat multiple times per day.
It is important to note that this exercise will not permanently fix your jaw. However, continuous stretches to realign your bite can ease the tension in your jaw, resulting in less pain.
Open Wide Stretch
The temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your skull to your jawbone. Chewing, talking, and even yawning can place a great deal of wear and tear on this joint, but these simple acts can be painful with TMJ.
Opening your mouth wide and holding it in position for 5 to 10 minutes can reduce stress on your temporomandibular joint. Repeat the stretch a few times each day, increasing the number of minutes you can hold your opened mouth in position. This will not only ease the tension in your joint, jaw, and teeth, but it will also reduce any difficulty you have when chewing, talking, and yawning.
Sit at a table or next to a hard surface. Place your elbows on the table with your thumb pointing up. Rest your chin on top of your thumb, but be sure your elbow is locked firmly on the table.
While your chin rests on your thumb, slowly open your mouth by lowing your jaw against your thumb. Hold your opened mouth in position for 5 to 10 seconds, but do not reduce the pressure of your thumb. After the time, release and repeat the resistance exercise.
Pushing up the roof of your mouth using your tongue is another exercise that can relieve the tension and discomfort in your jaw area.
Sit comfortable on a chair or sofa. Push your tongue to the roof of your mouth and hold it in place for a few seconds. While the tongue pushes up on the roof of your mouth, slowly open your jaw. Hold for a few seconds before releasing, but keep your tongue pressed on the roof of your mouth.
Repeat these tongue pushups multiple times each day for TMJ relief.
Lifting pencils with your mouth may not be your ideal type of weight training, but the added ounces can increase the strength of your temporomandibular joint.
Place a pencil inside your mouth, biting down slightly on the middle. Ensure the pencil rests directly behind your front teeth. While the pencil is in position, move your lower jaw to the left and hold for 15 seconds. After the time, release and move your lower jaw back in its original position with the pencil still in place. Then, move your lower jaw to the right and hold in position for 15 seconds. Release after the time and repeat multiple times per day.
Utilizing these exercises will not heal your TMJ, but with ongoing use, they can relieve popping, clicking, and discomfort in your jaw. Consulting your dentist or orthodontist is wise for permanent treatment.