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What Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Exercises Relieve Pain?

What Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Exercises Relieve Pain

Understanding TMJ Temporomandibular Joint 

You may not think about your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) much, but you use them a lot. The joints connect your jawbone to your skull. Your TMJ springs into action each time you talk, chew and swallow.

TMJ disorders occur when something goes wrong with your jaw joints and jaw muscles. Oftentimes, this happens because of a jaw injury, inflammation such as arthritis, or overuse.

TMJ disorders may cause mild to debilitating symptoms, such as:

  • pain while chewing
  • pain in the ear, face, jaw, and neck
  • clicking, grating, or popping sounds in the jaw when you open or close your mouth
  • locking of the jaw joint
  • headaches

Exercises for TMJ pain relief

It’s unclear exactly how TMJ exercises may relieve pain. They’re thought to help:

  • strengthen jaw muscles
  • stretch the jaw
  • relax the jaw
  • increase jaw mobility
  • reduce jaw clicking
  • promote jaw healing

According to one 2010 study published in the Journal of Dental Research, performing TMJ exercises increases the mouth opening range more than using a mouthguard in people with TMJ disc displacement.

These nine exercises from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the Royal Surrey County Hospital may help relieve TMJ pain and improve the movement of your jaw joints. For some exercises, there are frequency recommendations. For exercises where frequency recommendations aren’t available, ask your doctor or dentist for guidance.

1. Relaxed jaw exercise

Rest your tongue gently on the top of your mouth behind your upper front teeth. Allow your teeth to come apart while relaxing your jaw muscles.

2. Goldfish exercises (partial opening)

Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and one finger in front of your ear where your TMJ is located. Put your middle or pointer finger on your chin.

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