What Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Exercises Relieve Pain?

Dec 27, 2018

Dr. Mark Summerford and the oral healthcare professionals at Central Park Dental Care, located in Auburn, Alabama, want to educate their patients, new and current, on the symptoms of TMJ disorders and certain exercises that may relieve pain.

Understanding TMJ

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) gets a lot of use as it connects the jawbone with the skull and is used to chew, swallow and talk.  TMJ disorders result from inflammation, arthritis or overuse from teeth grinding.  The symptoms of these disorders can range from mild to debilitating, and include:

  • pain while chewing
  • pain in the jaw, neck, ears and face
  • clicking, popping or grating sounds
  • locking of the jaw joint
  • headaches

Exercises that Relieve TMJ

The exercises below may not reduce pain, but they will aid in the:

  • strengthening, stretching and relaxing the jaw
  • increasing jaw mobility
  • reducing jaw clicking
  • promoting jaw healing

The following are 9 exercises recommended by the American Academy of Family Physicians to improve jaw movement and may reduce pain.

  • Relaxed jaw exercise
  • Goldfish (partial opening)
  • Goldfish (full opening)
  • Chin tucks
  • Resisted opening of the mouth
  • Resisted closing of the mouth
  • Tongue up
  • Side-to-side jaw movement
  • Forward jaw movement

Your dentist will provide information on these exercises and will advise which are the best, and at what frequencies, for your particular condition.

Other Ways to Manage TMJ Pain

In addition to over-the-counter pain relievers and a mouthguard to prevent teeth grinding at night, your dentist may recommend warm towels, ice and acupuncture.  However, severe pain may require invasive treatment, and there is no evidence of surgical intervention being effective or safe.

Tips for Relieving Pain During Dental Care

For those suffering from TMJ may find it painful during basic oral hygiene and routine dental check-ups.  Below are tips to reduce pain and to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy.

  • Use a soft-bristled or a sonic toothbrush
  • Use a rubber-tipped stimulator or a water flosser
  • Use an antiseptic mouth rinse
  • Communicate your pain to the dental professionals
  • Apply ice and heat after a dental exam

The Bottom Line

TMJ disorders do not go away without intervention.  The exercises noted above may bring pain relief, but no exercise should be practiced when the pain is severe.  One should begin any exercise slowly.  Any pain felt should be tolerable and it will gradually improve.

The exercise of tense muscles will defeat the purpose of the exercise.

Dr. Mark Summerford and the team of oral healthcare professionals at Central Park Dental Care, located near you in Auburn, Alabama, are trusted and highly recommended in the treatment of TMJ disorders, preventative and restorative dental treatments.

Please contact Central Park Dental Care where new patients are always welcome for their TMJ Treatments.



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