Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, sometimes called TMJ can cause pain in the jaw, face, around the ear. It can cause headaches and make it hard to chew. You can also get locking of the jaw making it difficult to open or close your mouth.
In this video I'll show you some key exercises to resolve your temporomandibular joint dysfunction. These exercises decrease you pain by moving and strengthening the joint and surrounding muscles. It's not a quick fix but some people find they can get relief fairly quickly. You'll also want to figure out the cause of your TMD. Often times it is due to stress which causes day or night time jaw clenching or nervous habits like nail biting, pencil chewing or other things that irritate the joint. To reduce stress I recommend meditation and whichever type of exercise that you enjoy the most You'll also want to start being more aware of how you chew your food. Only chewing your food on one side of your mouth can be a problem and is often the cause or at least a contributing factor. Before I show you the exercises keep in mind that you should start out easy and don't push through pain if any of the exercises are painful. If you have pain just lighten up your pressure or limit your motion to keep pain to a minimum. It helps to do them in front of a mirror to make sure you're doing them correctly.
For the first exercise place the tip of your tongue just behind your two front teeth and keep it there while opening and closing your mouth. Open and close your mouth 10 times. Watch your jaw in the mirror to see if it shifts towards the left or right as it moves. Try to keep it in midline as you open and close.
Now with your mouth slightly open, use the palm of your hand to apply pressure to the side of your jaw and at the same time press back with your jaw into your hand. Check in the mirror to make sure your jaw stays centered in midline and doesn't actually move to the side. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5 times on each side.
Now with the jaw slightly open place your palm or thumbs under your chin and apply pressure upward into your chin while at the same time pressing down with your chin keeping your jaw centered. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5 times Next we're going to stretch the joint. With your mouth slightly open, and centered and jaw relaxed: apply pressure with the palm of your hand on the chin in a straight backward direction. This requires some firm pressure to get a good stretch. If it's painful just lighten up on your pressure. Hold for about 1 second and repeat 10 times.
erforming these exercises on a regular basis will help build strength and mobility in your TMJ and should help relieve your pain. Do them once, preferably twice a day for at least a few weeks. Some people will get relief more quickly than others but don't give up if it doesn't seem like it's working after a few days. Have a great day, and stay strong!
AJ Ludlow is a Doctor of Physical Therapy serving the Provo/Orem area and specializing in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and injuries.