If you find yourself constantly clenching your jaw and teeth in anger or in stress, you’re suffering from bruxism. Bruxism is a condition that results from constantly grinding your teeth at night. A high number of bruxism patients clench their teeth during the day as well. Since it is an involuntary action, many patients find it difficult to stop. The stress of constantly clenching and grinding can damage your temporomandibular joints that lead to TMJ. Bruxism and TMJ can be a little confusing to identify since they have similar signs and symptoms, so understanding the difference between the two is going to be important.
If you want to correct your jaw pain for the long haul, then you should do these exercises. These TMJ exercises will contract and strengthen your muscles, which will make the changes to put your joint in the right position.
Jaw Exercises for TMJ Pain Relief
- Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening exercises are best performed between TMJ flare-ups. During times of extreme pain, TMJ flare-ups can aggravate the pain. Here are two strengthening exercises:
- Place your thumb under your chin, pushing your chin downward against it. Keep opening your mouth against a reasonable force from your thumb, and then hold it open for 5-10 seconds.
- Open your mouth wide open as comfortably as you can. Place your index finger between your chin and lower lip. Keep your mouth closed and push inward against the resistance.
- Stretching Exercises: Stretching exercises can soothe TMJ pain during a flare-up. They minimize muscle and joint tension, providing long-term relief.
- Place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Open your mouth as wide open as you comfortably can. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Glide your lower jaw out as far as it can, then back in as far as it can. Hold for 10 seconds in each position.
- Gradually open your mouth as wide as you can, with your tongue in a neutral position. Hold for 10 seconds then close your mouth. Then, open your mouth slightly, gliding your lower jaw back and forth 5-10 times.
- Keep your mouth closed. Look straight ahead, glancing to the right with your eyes only. Move your lower jaw to the left and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat the same with your upper jaw.
- Keep a thin object, either a pencil or a paintbrush in between your front teeth. Glide your lower jaw forward, allowing the object to rest between your back and front teeth. Hold the position for 20 seconds.
- Relaxation Exercises: Stress often triggers TMJ pain, and these exercises can help you with relaxing.
- Gradually inhale, allowing your stomach to expand instead of your chest. Slowly exhale, while allowing your exhalation to last as long as your inhalation. Repeat the exercise 5-10 times.
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position with some support. Relax your muscles and banish tension from your muscles. Begin with your feet and work your way up to the head.
Other Ways for TMJ Pain Relief
- Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 20 minutes. Some may find alternating between heat and ice more effective.
- Use anti-inflammatory drugs to receive temporary relief.
- Massage your neck and head muscles to control tension emitting from the TMJ.
Make sure you are not pushing too hard since these are gentle stretches for the small joints in your jaw. If you are committed during your TMJ pain treatment, you will feel better with ease of pain. However, make sure you speak with your dentist who can make recommendations specific to your case.