The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a particularly complex joint that connects the lower jaw with the side of the skull. It allows us to move our jaw from side to side as well as up and down, which is what enables us to speak and to chew. TMJ pain is a common ailment caused by several factors such as inflammation, excessive teeth grinding, trauma, overbite, or even stress. Sufferers may hear a clicking sound or a popping in the ears and can experience earaches, stiffness or soreness in the jaw, and pain in the temple area. Stress and anxiety can cause one to clench the jaw more tightly than usual, which also leads to TMJ as well as headaches and migraines.
Regardless of how TMJ pain is caused, the sensation is unpleasant enough to warrant immediate medical attention. Try the following TMJ treatment exercises out for yourself to see which work best for you.
1. Jaw Stretching
To do this exercise, you need to stretch the masticatory muscles in your jaw, which are the ones that help you chew.
- Massage the muscles of your jaw in a circular motion.
- Open your mouth as wide as possible and hold it there for 10 seconds before relaxing your jaw again.
- Repeat the exercise 10 times.
Try this exercise if you feel you need to relax your jaw or facial muscles. Locate a comfortable place where you can sit.
- Focus on breathing in a rhythmic pattern.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose before exhaling through your mouth.
- With your lips firmly shut, press your tongue onto the ceiling of your mouth before relaxing it again.
- Tightly clasp your jaw muscles together before relaxing them.
- Scrunch your face up before relaxing it.
- Raise your shoulders to your ears before relaxing them.
- Now focus entirely on your breathing for a few seconds.
This exercise is effective in preventing your jaw muscles from over contracting.
- Close your jaw as tight as possible before letting it fall open again.
- With your hand under your chin, press softly as you open your jaw before relaxing it again.
- Move your jaw to the right before relaxing it.
- Move your jaw to the left before relaxing it.
4. The Yawn
Do this exercise if you need to relax your throat, jaw, or face.
- Open your mouth as wide as possible then take a deep breath and yawn.
- While inhaling, stretch the muscles in your jaw and tense the muscles in your shoulders.
- Exhale slowly and relax all your tensed muscles.
- Repeat the exercise several times until the desired effect has been achieved.
5. The Goldfish
- Hold your tongue on the ceiling of your mouth then put one finger on your chin and the other on your TMJ.
- Lower your jaw as far as it goes and move it back again.
- Repeat the process at least five times, or more as necessary.
These are just some of the many exercises a sufferer can do to relieve TMJ pain. To find the optimal treatment regime for you, speak with your chiropractor about what options are available. Other avenues such as medication, mouth guards, and acupuncture are also worth considering.