The hinged bone that connects the jaw and the skull is called the temporomandibular joint often referred to as TMJ. If you press your index fingers on the cheeks and open and close your mouth, you can feel this joint. Sometimes, the bone structure in the joint becomes misaligned. When this occurs, it is called TMJ dysfunction, or TMJD. Some of the common symptoms include a clicking sound when the jaw is opened and closed, pain in the TMJ, difficulty chewing and sometimes locking of the jaw occurs. It is important to discuss your symptoms with your Birmingham dentist. Dr. Roberson can create a treatment plan that includes pain management. There are also plenty of jaw exercises that can help manage TMJD symptoms. Try these five exercises to help manage pain or discomfort.
Tongue Movement Exercise to Stretch the TMJ
Sometimes, this simple exercise can help relieve TMJ pain, and it helps to gently stretch the jaw. Place your tongue on the top of your mouth. Move it back to find the soft spot on the roof of the mouth. Using your tongue, gently apply pressure to the roof of your mouth while slowly opening your jaw. Now, stick your tongue out as far as you can and hold it for five seconds. Repeat this exercise five times.
Goldfish Exercises to Strengthen Your Temporomandibular Joint
There are two variations to this jaw exercise for TMJD. A partial goldfish involves placing your tongue on the roof of the mouth, then placing one finger in front of your ear on the TMJ. Then, place the pointer finger of your other hand on your chin. Use your finger to drop your jaw halfway open and then close it. There should be a little bit of resistance, but no pain.
A full goldfish is the same as above, except that you use your finger to drop your jaw all the way down and then back up again. Either of these exercises should be done in rounds of six. Each round can be completed six times a day.
Chin Tuck Exercises to Stretch the TMJ
A chin tuck is exactly what it sounds like. Keep your shoulders pulled back and your chest up. Then, tuck your chin down and into your neck. You are basically creating a “double chin.” Hold your chin in a tucked position for three seconds and then relax. Repeating this action 10 times gives the jaw a good stretch.
Resisted Mouth Movement Exercise to Strengthen the TMJ
Using resisted mouth opening and closing helps build up strength in the temporomandibular joint. The resisted opening involves placing your thumb under your chin, then opening your mouth slowly. Apply a little resistance by pushing gently against your chin using your thumb. Resisted closing is similar. Use your index fingers and thumbs on both hands to squeeze your chin. Then, drop your jaw down to open your mouth. Use your fingers to apply gentle resistance to your chin while trying to close your mouth.
Exercise to Relax Your TMJ
It’s important to relax your jaw muscles from time to time as they can become tense. Put your tongue on the top of your mouth right behind your front top teeth. Allow your teeth to open just a little bit while relaxing the muscles in your jaws. Let the action be natural and relaxed instead of forced.
Talk to Your Birmingham Dentist
If you suffer from TMJD, these exercises can be useful to help relieve jaw pain. But you also need to discuss long-term treatment with Dr. Roberson. Call our offices today to schedule your exam and learn more about your long-term treatment options.