Does your jaw frequently hurt or feel tight? Do you always have headaches and unexplained soreness in your face or neck? If so, you might have TMJ disorder. Fortunately, there are some exercises you can perform at home to help soothe pain and stiffness in the jaw. Suppose your jaw pain is due to teeth grinding. Then you can book an appointment with your dentist to get a customized mouth guard and check the condition of your teeth. Encountering pain and discomfort in your jaw or close to the ears could imply you have a TMJ problem. Keep reading to learn more about TMJ pain relief exercises, including the different ways to address your TMJ disorder.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, also referred to as TMD, is a condition causing tension and pain in the jaw and face. This occurs when the temporomandibular joint becomes inflamed or improperly situated.
These joints connect your cheekbone to your jaw, and they can move both forward and backward and side to side. They also allow you to open and close your mouth, yawn, talk, chew, and more. However, they can be irritated, causing a person to experience symptoms of TMJ disorder.
Causes of TMJ Disorder
Even though the cause for TMJ disorder is frequently unclear, some common issues that can result in TMJ pain include:
- A jaw, neck, or head injury
- Poor posture
- Misaligned teeth
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Disrupted sleep
- Sleep apnea
Numerous people who grind their teeth or clench their jaws do not know they are doing it, mainly during bedtime. If you frequently wake up with headaches, you might be encountering sleep bruxism which can lead to TMJ disorder. You can schedule an appointment with dental professionals from My Dentist West Ryde to review symptoms and create the best treatment plan for you.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Here are some common symptoms of TMJ disorder:
- Difficulty chewing
- Pain around the jaw, ears, or neck
- Clicking or locking in the jaw
- Pain or tenderness in your jaw or face
- Trouble opening your mouth
- Limited range of movement in your jaw
TMJ Exercises for Pain Relief
It is somehow unclear how TMJ exercises may diminish the pain. In any case, TMJ exercises can help you to:
- stretch the jaw
- increase jaw mobility
- strengthen jaw muscles
- reduce jaw clicking
- relax the jaw
- promote jaw healing
These exercises may help ease TMJ pain and increase the movement of your jaw joints. For some activities, there are frequency proposals. Notwithstanding, you can ask your doctor or dentist for direction from some exercises where frequency recommendations are unavailable.
Relaxed Jaw Exercise
Rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind your front teeth. Then, permit your teeth to fall apart while relaxing your jaw muscles. Repeat this 5-6 times
Stick your tongue on the top of your mouth. Then place one finger before your ear where your TMJ is situated. Also, put your pointer or middle finger on your chin, bring down your lower jaw midway, and close it afterward. Know that in this activity, you should experience mild resistance but not pain. Do this activity six times in a single set. Remember to do one set six times each day.
Pull your chin or jawline straight back, creating a double chin, while your shoulders back and chest up. Remain in this position for three seconds and do this 10 times.
Resisted Opening of the Mouth
Place your thumb below your chin, then open your mouth gradually. Your tongue should push against your chin for resistance. Remain in this position for three to six seconds, and afterwards, close your mouth slowly.
Resisted Closing of the Mouth
Press your chin with your thumb and index finger with one hand. Then, close your mouth as you put light pressure on your chin. In any case, this exercise will fortify your muscles that help you chew.
In this exercise, slowly open and close your mouth while your tongue touches the upper part of your mouth.
Side-to-Side Jaw Movement
Place a tiny object between your front teeth, such as stacked tongue depressors. Then, slowly move your jaw from one side to another. As the activity becomes simpler, increment the object’s thickness between your teeth by stacking them one on top of one another.
Forward Jaw Exercise
Place a small object between your front teeth. Then, move your lower jaw forward, so your lower teeth are in front of your upper teeth. Similar to side-to-side jaw exercise, increase the object’s thickness between your teeth as the activity becomes simpler.
Alternate Approaches to Manage TMJ Pain
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as ibuprofen may help ease TMJ pain. For severe pain, you may get some muscle relaxers. Also, doctors may recommend:
- applying warm towels
- using mouth guards to realign your jaw
- getting dental splints to prevent jaw clenching and teeth grinding
- using stress-relief techniques to help forestall behaviors that result in jaw tension
- applying ice compress, not directly on the skin and no more than 15 minutes per hour
- undergoing acupuncture to help diminish pressure in the affected region
Suppose you have chronic pain because of the damaged joints. In that case, you might need a more invasive treatment, such as corticosteroid injections into the TMJ. Also, your doctor or dentist may consider a surgical procedure as a last resort. There is not any logical proof that surgery for TMJ issues is effective and safe.
Additionally, you can also manage TMJ pain with simple lifestyle changes. Here are some of the following:
- Avoid chewing gum
- Practice good posture
- Eat a soft diet to permit the TMJ to relax
- Avoid biting your lower lip
- Avoid biting your nails
- Limit enormous jaw developments, like yawning and singing
Tips To Relieve TMJ Pain During Dental Care
People with TMJ pain may experience some trouble practicing basic oral hygiene. This incorporates brushing your teeth, flossing, and getting regular dental cleanings. In any case, here are some tips to lessen discomfort and help ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy:
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush or powered toothbrush.
- Use a water flosser if you cannot open your mouth to floss.
- Apply an antiseptic mouthwash to your regular dental care routine.
- Inform your dentist if you are in pain during a dental care treatment.
- Use an ice or heat compress after a dental procedure.
- Ask your dentist about proper approaches to eliminate plaque. For instance, they may propose wiping your teeth with a soft clean towel.
Sometimes, TMJ disorders disappear all alone. If your manifestations continue, TMJ exercises may help bring pain relief. The activities for TMJ should not be performed when you are in extreme pain. It would be best to wait until your pain is better before doing a TMJ exercise routine.
Remember that it is essential to slowly start when doing TMJ exercises. Also, you may experience some pain at first. However, it should be tolerable, and bit by bit, improve.
Another thing is you should do the exercises when you are relaxed. Whenever you practice them when your muscles are tense, you might not get the purpose of the activity. Moreover, if the pain is not tolerable or worsens after doing TMJ exercise, consult your doctor.
Teeth grinding (bruxism).
Everything you need to know about TMJ disorders.
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Open-Joint Arthroplasty for Temporomandibular Disorders.