If you suffer from symptoms like regular jaw pain or popping or clicking noises while eating, you might be wondering where you can find relief. Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ is an umbrella term describing a symptom complex affecting the muscles and nerves connected to the temporomandibular joint, which functions as a sliding hinge that connects your mandible to your skull. Despite previous research, experts still don’t agree on a specific cause of TMJ. Combine this with symptoms which vary in both severity and type from patient to patient, and TMJ can become more and more difficult to both diagnose and treat.

For those suffering from TMJ pain, this begs the question: where can I find relief. According to some research, physical therapy-type exercises could reduce pain and accelerate recovery.

man getting a massage on his head

TMJ Exercises for Pain Relief

Published in the Journal of Dental Research in 2010, a randomized clinical trial wanted to test the benefits of therapeutic exercise in reducing TMJ pain. Within the 8 week trial, the study found that the maximum mouth-opening range increased, generalized pain decreased, and limitations in function decreased, demonstrating that these exercises could have a valuable place in TMJ treatment in the future.

Jaw Depressions

Jaw depression exercises is a basic exercise to increase you mouth-opening range without pain. To perform this exercises, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and begin opening your jaw as wide as you can until you begin to feel pain. Perform this exercise in a controlled manner ten times, in two complete sets.

Resistance Training

Much like weight-training or running with a weighted belt, resistance training is a great way to get your body (and jaw) into shape. To perform these two exercises, you’ll be using your hand to offer resistance to the closing and opening of your mouth. The first exercise can be conducted by placing your thumb under your chin, and slowly opening your mouth while applying pressure. Hold this pose for five seconds, and repeat the exercise 10 times for 2 complete sets. The next exercise is similar only with opposite movements. Place your thumb on your chin and begin closing your mouth with resistance. Again, hold this pose for five seconds, and repeat 10 times for 2 complete sets.

Your Dentist Can Help

It’s important to pay attention to your symptoms as you attempt any home treatment. If symptoms don’t start improving within a week or if they worsen, you should seek professional care.

A dentist trained in neuromuscular dentistry can play a key role in helping to alleviate your TMJ pain. Treatment starts with a consultation in which your dentist will use a TENS unit (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) to relax your jaw and take accurate measurements, then, after reviewing more information, they can suggest a treatment plan catered to you.

In some cases, this could involve a mouth splint designed to help your jaw rest while it heals itself.

If you would like to learn more about TMJ treatment in Wilmington, NC, please call (910) 392-6060 or email Kuzma Advanced Dentistry for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Michael Kuzma.