The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is often be overlooked, but you use it everyday to open and close your mouth. The TMJ's connect your skull to your jaw bone and can be felt in the front of each ear. When something goes wrong in your jaw muscles and joints it can cause pain, clicking noises, and limited mobility.
In some cases TMJ pain can subside on it's own. Many people alleviate their pain by doing jaw exercises.
The following exercises can help strengthen and stretch your jaw muscles to train them to move correctly without causing pain. It’s recommended that you do them for 5 minutes twice a day, preferably while you’re sitting down and relaxed. Make sure that whatever exercise you do on one side, you repeat on the other side. Every case of TMJ pain or Bruxism is different, so these exercises might work for some people, but not others.
With your mouth open as wide as possible (without causing pain), use your right hand to slowly push on the right side of your jaw. Hold in position for 10 seconds and return to the middle. Repeat on the other side.
Trace the hinge of your jaw and massage the muscles with a downward motion.
Place your thumb underneath the center of your chin. Open your mouth slowly while also applying gentle pressure from the bottom. Hold your mouth open for 3-6 seconds. Repeat 3-6 times.
Open your mouth as wide as you can without feeling any pain. Return to closed mouth. Open your mouth two more times, but half as wide.
Place an object (pencil) that is about ½ an inch thick between your teeth. Gently move your jaw from one side to another. Repeat this several times. Once you feel it’s too easy, use a thicker object (marker) to challenge yourself.
With the same ½ inch object used in the previous exercise, move your lower teeth forward until they are in front of your upper teeth. Repeat this several times until it gets easier. Replace with a thicker object.
Open your mouth and wide as you can and place the tip of your tongue to the roof of the your mouth. While gently applying pressure, move the tip of your tongue towards your tonsils and hold it there for 5 seconds. Now stick your tongue outside of your mouth as far as you can and hold for another 5 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times.
While looking in the mirror, slowly open your mouth while trying to keep your two front teeth centered with your bottom teeth. Repeat 5-10 times.
Although there is no cure for Bruxism (night grinding), there are things that we can do to prevent serious damage and alleviate the discomfort. Everyone’s teeth are unique to themselves. Therefore, every case of bruxism is different. Work with your dentist to find the best treatment that works for you.