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What are the Best TMJ Exercises?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Jan 31, 2024
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Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a disorder which causes the joints to be tight and sometimes painful, and it can be alleviated by doing exercises to strengthen the jaw. Exercises can include lifting the jaw against the weight of a fist or with the tongue lifted against the roof of the mouth. Applying pressure to the jaw on each side with the fingers can also relax the muscles and joint and help alleviate discomfort. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the joints.

TMJ exercises may help to loosen the jaw and get rid of pain which can be caused when fluid builds up on either side. This disorder is characterized by clicking in the jaw, pain, stiffness, and cracking. Exercises aim to create isometric energy and cause the jaw to relax. One exercise involves putting the tongue at the roof of the mouth and then opening it slowly.

Additional TMJ exercises include placing the fist below the chin and then opening the mouth against even pressure applied by the fist. The fist can also be placed on the left side of the jaw just below the hinge. Each exercise should be repeated ten times once or more per day. One may also place a finger on each side of the jaw and apply light pressure while the mouth is opened and closed slowly.

Massage around the jaw near the hinge is also sometimes effective at alleviating pain. One may also try shaking the chin back and forth while holding it between the thumb and forefinger. It is important that the jaw be loose and relaxed before this is attempted. TMJ exercises should be discontinued if pain or discomfort arises or becomes worse. It is essential not to do them too quickly, as this could cause additional damage to the jaw.

Sometimes TMJ exercises do not effectively ease pain and additional medical treatments may be necessary. In severe cases, surgery may be performed to repair the jaw. If additional symptoms arise another medical condition or injury may be to blame. When severe, TMJ may cause neck, back, and head pain that worsens over time. There are a variety of causes which may contribute to TMJ, including jaw surgery and injury.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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