Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a jaw disorder involving the muscles that control jaw movement. The temporomandibular joint is one of the most complex in the body, and disorders arise when there is an imbalance in the working relationship of the jaw and skull with the muscles that move the jaw. However, several simple exercises can strengthen these muscles and ease the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ.
Possible Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
Temporomandibular joint disorders are often simply referred to as “TMJ,” even though the term TMJ only refers to the jaw joints themselves. TMJ disorders can be caused by blunt trauma to the face, orthodontic work or more subtle traumas like clenching or grinding of teeth. Even cradling your phone between your shoulder and head can trigger TMJ symptoms. Symptoms can include clicking and popping sounds in the jaw when opening or closing the mouth, limited movement in or locking of the jaw and pain in the jaw, face or neck.
Bite your teeth together and look in the mirror at the position of your central incisors on your lower jaw. Watch these teeth and open your mouth slowly. Attempt to keep your lower jaw centered as you open. Repeat 10 times.
Cup your palm under your chin and open your mouth slowly. Provide gentle resistance to your mouth opening. Repeat 10 times.
Open your mouth about one inch from a clenched bite. Move your lower jaw as far to the right and then to the left as is comfortable without opening more. Repeat 10 times for each side.
Close your teeth gently against each other and place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind your front teeth. Keep your teeth closed and run the tip of your tongue backward along the roof of your mouth until your reach your soft palate. Slowly open your mouth and keep your tongue on the roof. Stop opening when your tongue leaves the roof, you have any pain or you hear clicks and pops. Hold this position for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat once or twice per day.