Do you know that TMJ pain can cause discomfort while using your jaw joints?
You might not think of your temporomandibular joint much, however, you tend to use them a lot.
This joint connects your jawbone to your skull.
Moreover, your TMJ springs into action while you talk, chew, and swallow.
TMJ disorders can occur when something is not right with your jaw joints and jaw muscles.
In most cases, it can occur due to a number of reasons.
These can be jaw injury, inflammation when it occurs with conditions like arthritis, or overusing your jaw joints.
Furthermore, TMJ disorders can cause mild to debilitating symptoms.
These can be pain while chewing, pain in your ear, face, jaw, and neck, clicking, grating, or popping sounds in the jaw when you open or close your mouth.
Additionally, locking of the jaw, and headaches are the symptoms that can occur.
Let’s learn more about TMJ pain and exercises you can try to relieve your symptoms.
TMJ Pain Symptoms
The symptoms of TMJ pain depend on the severity and cause of your condition.
Moreover, the most common symptom of TMP disorders is pain in your jaw and the surrounding muscles.
According to recent research, some other symptoms that are typically associated with these disorders are:
- pain that you can feel in the face or neck
- stiffness in the muscles of your jaw
- limited movement of the jaw
- locking of the jaw
- clicking or popping sound from the TMJ site
- dental issues like wearing down of teeth
- tinnitus or ringing in the ear
- a shift in the jaw, changing the way your upper and lower teeth align, or malocclusions
It is important to note that the symptoms can show up on just one side of your face or both.
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Causes of TMJ Pain
Most often, the cause of TMJ pain is unknown.
Trauma to the jaw or joint may also play a role, while there are also some other health conditions that can contribute to the development of TMJ disorders.
Arthritis, erosion or wearing away of your joint, and habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth.
Moreover, structural jaw issues present at birth, and growth disorders can cause TMJ disorders.
Though there are some factors that can lead to the development of TMJ disorders, they have not been proven to be a direct cause.
Some of the are:
- female hormones, many experts are of the view that estrogen may play a role in the development of TMJ
- poor posture can strain the muscles of your neck and face
- prolong stress
- joint hypermobility
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Exercises for TMJ pain Relief
It is unclear exactly how TMJ exercises may help relieve the pain.
However, many experts believe that they can help to strengthen jaw muscles, stretch the jaw, and relax it.
Moreover, it can help increase jaw mobility, reduce jaw clicking, and promote jaw healing.
According to a study in the Journal of Dental Research, performing TMJ exercises can help increase mouth opening range more than using a mouthguard in case of TMJ disc displacement.
These nine exercises from the American Academy of Family Physicians, AAFP, and the Royal Surrey County Hospital can help relieve TMJ pain.
And it can also help to improve the movement of your jaw joints.
However, for some exercises, you may need frequency recommendations.
If there are no recommendations for the frequency of exercises, you can seek medical advice or ask your Arabic female dentist or doctor for guidance.
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Exercises you can Try
The following are the exercises you can try at home:
1# Relaxed Jaw Exercise
For this exercise, rest your tongue on the top of your mouth behind your upper front teeth.
Allow your teeth to come apart while relaxing the muscles of your jaw.
2# Goldfish Exercise or Partial Opening
Follow the steps below to perform this exercise:
Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and one finger in front of you where TMJ is.
Then, put your middle or pointer finger on your chin, drop your lower jaw halfway and then close.
Make sure that there is enough resistance, however, no pain while performing this exercise.
On the other hand, a variation of this exercise is to place one finger on each TMJ as your drop your lower jaw halfway and close it again.
Perform this exercise at least six times in one set. Moreover, you should do one set six times daily.
3# Goldfish Exercise, Full Opening
Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth, place one finger on your TMJ and another finger on your chin.
Then drop your lower jaw completely and back.
However, in case of variation, place one finger on each TMJ as you completely drop your lower jaw and back.
Perform this exercise six times to complete one step.
Moreover, you should complete one set six times regularly.
4# Chin Tucks
With your shoulder back and chest up, pull your chin straight back, creating a “double chin”.
Hold this position for 3 seconds and make sure to repeat it 10 times.
5# Resisted Opening of Mouth
Place your thumb under the chin, open your mouth slowly, pushing gently against your chin for resistance.
Make sure to hold this for 3 to 6 seconds and then close your mouth slowly.
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Some more exercises you can try are:
Resisted Closing of Mouth
Squeeze your chin with the index finger and thumb with one hand.
Close your mouth as you place gentle pressure on your chin.
This exercise will help to strengthen your muscles that help your chew.
With your tongue touching the roof of your mouth, slowly open and close it.
Side-to-Side Jaw Movement
For this exercise, out a 1/4 inch object like a stacked tongue depression, between your front teeth.
Slowly move your jaw from side to side.
As this exercise becomes easier, you can increase the thickness of the object between your teeth by stacking them on top of each other.
Forward Jaw Movement
Place a 1/4 inch object between your front teeth.
Move your bottom jaw forward so your bottom teeth are in front of your top teeth.
As this exercise becomes easier, increase the thickness of the object between the teeth.
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Other ways to Manage TMJ Pain
With the help of over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, you can help relieve TMJ pain.
Moreover, you can also use muscle relaxers in case of severe pain, and your doctor will prescribe them.
Your doctor may recommend the following:
- mouth guards to prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching
- mouth guards to help realign your jaw
- warm towels
- ice, however, do not apply for more than 15 minutes per hour and not directly on your skin
- stress-relief techniques that can help prevent behaviors that cause jaw tension
- acupuncture to help relieve pressure in the affected area
In case of severe pain that occurs due to damage in the joints, may need more invasive treatments.
These include using corticosteroids injection into the TMJ.
Moreover, surgery can help, however, many doctors use it as a last resort.
There is no scientific evidence that surgical interventions for TMJ disorders are safe and effective.
Furthermore, you can also manage TMJ with simple lifestyle changes.
You may want to eat a soft diet to allow the TMJ to relax, avoid chewing gum, avoid biting your nails and avoid biting your lower lip.
Additionally, you can practice good posture, limit large jaw movements like yawning and singing.
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Tips for Relieving Pain
If you have TMJ, it can be helpful to practice basic oral hygiene.
This includes brushing your teeth, flossing, and getting routine dental cleanings.
The TMJ Association recommends the following tips that can help to reduce pain and help make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy:
Use a soft-bristle toothbrush or a sonic toothbrush.
Use a rubber tip stimulator or water flosser if you are unable to open your mouth to floss.
Moreover, you can add an antiseptic mouth rinse to your daily dental care regimen.
Make sure to tell your dental care tea if you are in pain during a dental procedure.
You can apply ice or heat after a dental procedure.
Talk to your doctor about ways through which you can help remove plaque other than flossing.
For instance, your dentist may suggest to wipe your teeth with the cotton gauze.
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In some cases, TMJ disorders tend to go away on their own, however, if your symptoms persist, then TMJ exercises might help bring pain relief. TMJ exercises should not be done if you are in severe pain. The AAFP recommends waiting until your pain gets betters before starting an exercise regimen.
When doing TMJ exercises, begin slowly. It is important to note that you may feel pain at first, however, it is often tolerable and gradually improves. But if the pain is not tolerable, make sure to consult your doctor.
You should do TMJ exercises when you are relaxed. If you do them while your muscles are tense, they may defect to the purpose. Furthermore, if the TMJ pain worsens after doing exercises, make an appointment with your doctor.