Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) causes intense jaw pain, headaches, and stiffness throughout the neck. Affecting millions of people in the United States, it can be debilitating if left untreated. Fortunately, there are ways to treat TMD pain, one of which is through jaw exercises. In this article, a local dentist will share five ways you can safely care for your jaw joints and achieve relief.
How Jaw Stretches Can Help
When visiting your dentist to discuss treatment for your TMD, there is a good chance that an occlusal splint will be one of their recommendations, as this helps to take pressure off your jaw joints while also minimizing the potential for teeth grinding (bruxism). However, one of the more user-friendly methods of treatment includes jaw exercises and stretches.
The reason for these movements is so that you can strengthen your jaw over time while also increasing function. You may be surprised to learn that performing these exercises can also help promote healing.
5 Unique Exercises to Try
If jaw exercises are recommended by your dentist, it is important that you follow the instructions. Attempting other movements can potentially put your jaw joints under additional pressure, negating the purpose of this type of treatment. Five of the most common exercises to try include:
- Chin Tucks – This involves creating a “double chin” look by pulling your chin back and standing straight with your shoulders back. By repeating this 10 times and holding for three seconds each, you’ll begin to notice a difference in how your jaw feels.
- Tongue Touch – While slowing opening and closing your mouth, move your tongue so that it touches the roof of your mouth.
- Relaxed Jaw – When opening your mouth, allow your tongue to rest normally behind your upper teeth and pull them apart. This will stretch your jaw as the muscles stay relaxed.
- Resist Closing Your Mouth – Holding your chin between your index fingers and thumbs, apply pressure as you close your mouth. This will help to strengthen your chewing power.
- Side-to-Side – Find an object that is 1/4′-inch thick and place it between your front teeth. Gently, move your jaw from side to side. Over time, you’ll notice this becomes much easier, and you can begin to add thickness to the object between your teeth.
By practicing these simple exercises, you can begin to build up a stronger jawline and feel relief from the pain caused by TMD. If you have questions or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist for help.
About the Author
Dr. Joanne Bancroft earned her dental degree from the State University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in 2002, and she completed a General Practice Residency at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. As one of Westminster’s Top 3 Local Dentists in 2019 and one of Colorado’s Top Dentists in 2020, she enjoys helping patients take control of their oral health. By offering TMJ Therapy, she can minimize the symptoms caused by chronic jaw pain and deliver results that allow for a better quality of life. Contact us at (720) 458-6561 to find out how we can help you.