Jaw pain affects around four in every ten people — if you are suffering, try an exercise to relieve your discomfort.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) refers to the area in which the lower jaw meets the base of the skull. It is one of the most complex joints in the human body, and can, unfortunately, be a cause of considerable pain and discomfort, especially in the case of an injury or a degenerative disease like arthritis.
If you are suffering from pain in your TMJ, you might consider trying an exercise designed to strengthen the jaw and provide some relief from the uncomfortable symptoms often associated with the condition.
How to exercise your jaw
Resisted opening and closing exercises can be helpful in managing TMJ — for the former, slowly open your mouth while you push your chin up gently with your thumb, hold for a few seconds, and close your mouth slowly. For the latter exercise, place your thumb under your chin and your index finger in the area between your bottom lip and chin, and push down gently while you close your mouth.
Another useful TMJ exercise is to touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth while you open and close your mouth slowly. Alternatively, try a wide stretch in which you try and relax your jaw with your mouth closed, part your teeth slightly and then open your mouth as wide as can for a few seconds at a time.
Do jaw exercises work?
Jaw exercises can be very helpful in relieving pain and discomfort, but it is very important that you start off slowly. We also recommend that you come in for a personal consultation before attempting any of these exercises. It is generally best to perform jaw exercises as part of a treatment plan recommended by your doctor.
Once your doctor has confirmed that jaw exercises are suitable for your particular case, we recommend that you try them when you are feeling fairly relaxed. If you feel severe pain when attempting the exercises, stop and contact us for a follow-up consultation.
How to stretch your jaw muscles
Another effective means of managing TMJ pain is to stretch your jaw regularly. Stretching can be helpful when it comes to relaxing both the muscles and joints, and relieving built up tension in the jaw area. To stretch your jaw, try and touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth while slowly opening your mouth wide for a few seconds at a time. You can also touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue and move your lower teeth as far in front of your upper teeth as you are able to. Hold this position for around 10 second before moving your lower jaw as far back as you can for a further 10 seconds.
If you suffer from TMJ pain, we highly recommend that you come in and see us. The condition is fairly common, but fortunately, most cases can be treated non-surgically. Besides jaw exercises, the management of your condition may include diet modifications, behaviour modification therapy to reduce stress, physiotherapy, medication and prosthodontic treatment.
In cases where non-surgical treatments have proven unsuccessful, we may recommend surgery. Surgical treatment is generally only performed in cases where TMJ causes chronic pain and dysfunction. When you come in for a consultation, your surgeon will discuss all your options with you and guide you through the process.
To arrange a consultation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our team is highly experienced and dedicated to finding the right treatment for you.