Chronic jaw pain is uncomfortable at best and debilitating at worst. Your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) may ache due to misaligned teeth, facial trauma, or for many other reasons. Fortunately, relief is possible. Before or alongside professional treatment, the experts recommend certain jaw exercises to strengthen and relax the muscle. We have listed the top 5 exercises below — keep reading to find out how you can get relief from a clicking, popping, aching jaw.
#1: Use Some Resistance
Between bouts of pain, try putting in some work to strengthen your TMJ muscles. NOTE: doing them when you’re experiencing discomfort won’t help, so stick to those times between.
- First, place your thumb on the bottom of your chin and press up using moderate force. Open and close your mouth up to 10 times. You may notice small popping or clicking — stop if the movement is painful.
- Using equal force, put your thumb on the front of your chin and press backward, moving it like you’re opening and closing a drawer.
#2: Open Wide
Sometimes, simple stretching can be good for an aching TMJ. Pressing up on the roof of your mouth with the tip of your tongue, open your mouth as wide as you can. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, release, and repeat.
#3: Bite Down on Something
It may sound strange, but a pencil could help you find relief from jaw pain. Place the pencil (or other long, small object) between your teeth and gently bite down, sliding your lower jaw forward and backward so the object moves from back to forward. Repeat several times for relief.
#4: Breathe In Deep
If stress is causing you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth, doing some stress-relieving exercises may provide significant help. Whenever you notice yourself holding tension in your jaw during the day, take some time to breathe. It’s simple — just close your eyes and inhale slowly, taking in a big, deep breath. When you can’t breathe in anymore, stop for a second before exhaling just as slowly. Repeat as many times as you need to relax.
#5: Release Tension
TMJ pain is likely to cause or occur alongside nighttime teeth grinding, or bruxism. Releasing tension in your body and jaw at night can help to reduce the incidence of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Place a warm compress on your TMJ to soothe it at night. When you lie down to go to sleep, first lie on your back. Close your eyes and check in with/visualize each body part, beginning with the crown of your head and going all the way down to the bottom of your feet. You can also tense and release each muscle, starting with your feet and continuing upwards.
Bonus Tip: Contact Your Oral Surgeon
If you’ve tried exercises for a painful jaw on your own without any success, it may be time to visit a professional for TMJ treatment. The team at Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery provides expert relief for jaw pain in our state-of-the-art office. Schedule an appointment today!