TMJ Pain? The Best TMJ Exercises To Fix Jaw Pain & Clicking
Does your jaw click?
At Ascent Chiropractic, we see a lot of patients with TMJ problems. It’s not exactly an uncommon condition – 12% of Americans suffer from chronic TMJ syndrome pain (also known as TMD). TMJ syndrome happens when the temporomandibular (jaw) joints aren’t working correctly. Sometimes this leads to a dull painful ache on the side of your face or chronic tension headaches. In other cases, you may feel a sharp pain along with clicking or popping when you chew. Or you may have a problem biting down.
The good news is that, for most people, TMJ pain isn’t something you just have to deal with. Although you probably associate what we do at Ascent with back, leg or shoulder injuries, we approach TMJ problems the same way. That means:
1. Chiropractic: Correcting joint alignment and motion with gentle musculoskeletal manipulation treatments.
2. Physical Therapy: Strengthening the supporting muscles and ligaments with specific rehabilitation exercises.
So if you’re suffering from TMJ pain, try these exercises and schedule an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic.
Strengthening the TMJ joint
The exercise below is designed to strengthen the muscles and ligaments that support your TMJ joints and retrain your jaw to move without pain or popping. Because individual cases can vary so much from patient to patient, these TMJ exercises may alleviate pain for some but not others.
Do the following exercise twice a day for 5 minutes, while relaxed and sitting upright.
- Close your mouth to touch your upper and lower teeth without clenching them. Rest the tip of your tongue on your palate behind your upper teeth.
- Run the tip of your tongue back towards your soft palate as far as you can, keeping your teeth together.
- Force your tongue back gently to maintain contact with the soft palate. Then slowly open your mouth until you feel your tongue being pulled away. Keep your mouth open in this position for five seconds before closing your mouth to relax.
Repeat this process slowly but firmly for 5 minutes. Use a mirror to make sure your teeth are closed straight up and down, and not off to either side.
As you open your mouth, you should feel tension under your chin and in the back of your neck. There shouldn’t be any clicking or popping from this movement. If there is, restart with a smaller range of motion until the exercise is click-free. Do not perform this exercise more than the recommended 5 minutes twice daily.
Note that you may experience some minor soreness at first, as your jaw gets used to the new movement. You should start to see results after 2 or 3 weeks of the exercise, as the muscles that open and close your jaw are retrained.
Exercises to keep TMJ pain from coming back
Once you have retrained your jaw to open and close without pain, whether with the above exercise alone or along with manipulative treatment, you can perform other exercises to keep the pain from coming back. The exercises below will help strengthen your supporting jaw muscles and keep pain caused by TMJ syndrome from returning.
- Resisted mouth opening: Place your thumb or two fingers under your chin and open your mouth slowly, while pushing up gently on your chin with your thumb. Hold for three to six seconds and then close your mouth slowly.
- Resisted mouth closing: Place your thumbs under your chin and your two index fingers on the ridge between your mouth and the bottom of your chin. Push down gently on your chin as you close your mouth.
- Tongue up: Slowly open and close your mouth while touching the roof of your mouth with your tongue.
- Side-to-side jaw movement: Place an object about .25” thick (for example, two popsicle sticks) between your front teeth. Slowly move your jaw from side to side. Increase the thickness of the object as the exercise becomes easier.
- Forward jaw movement: Place an object about .25” thick between your front teeth and move your bottom jaw forward so that the bottom teeth are in front of the top teeth. Increase the thickness of the object as the exercise becomes easier.
These TMJ exercises should never be painful. Stop immediately if they are, and consult with your chiropractor.
The Ascent Chiropractic Difference
Are you suffering from TMJ syndrome? At Ascent Chiropractic we utilize a gentle, non-thrusting adjusting technique along with the above exercises to correct the joint dysfunction at the root of TMJ problems. To make an appointment today, call us at 262-345-4166 or use our online scheduling app.