The temporomandibular joints contain muscles, tendons and bones that are important to the jaw that help us talk, chew, and swallow. The joints connect your jaw to your skull, which are very complex structures that cause pain if one side or both sides become injured.
When this joint is injured or damaged, it can lead to a pain disorder called Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD). The causes of TMJD include injury to teeth or jaw, teeth grinding or clenching, gum chewing, difficulty chewing, etc. Signs of having TMJD include jaw pain, jaw clicking and popping, popping sounds in ears, headaches, still or sore jaw muscles, pain in the temple area, and locking of the jaw point.
According to the study by the Journal of Dental Research, the study states that performing TMJ exercises using open mouth techniques improves the movement of jaw joints. Using exercises that include motor control, isometric, resisted and neck exercises can benefit the joints to reduce pain.
Here are some exercises that you can try, but remember to consult with a licensed healthcare professional before trying.
With your tongue touching the roof of your mouth, slowly open and close your mouth holding it for five seconds in a tongue contraction.
Hands by Jaw, gently open and close mouth for 15 times. Doing this will teach the mouth to open correctly to be better aligned.
Place your thumb under your chin, open your mouth slowly, and push gently against your chin for resistance. The thumb helps to not open your jaw. Hold the thumb for five seconds, and then close your mouth slowly to get the muscles activated again.
Squeeze your chin with your index and thumb with one hand. Close your mouth as you place gentle pressure on your chin. This will help strengthen your muscles that help you chew. Hold this technique for five seconds for 10 repetitions.
Using a neck stretch will help reduce pain. This stretch targets the upper trap muscle. The side where the muscle hurts, take that same side arm, put it behind your back and tip your head away from pain to feel a stretch.
Check out my Instagram page (@Motus_pt_nw) to watch my IGTV video showcasing the TMJ pain relief exercises.