How to Find Relief from Jaw Pain
The TMJ joint is the sliding hinge that connects the jawbone to the skull. Everyone has a joint on each side of the jaw. TMJ disorders arise when the teeth or jaw are misaligned, when a patient grinds or clenches their teeth excessively, has poor posture, has arthritis, is excessively stressed, or chews gum excessively. The most common symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:
- Jaw pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Clicking and locking of the jaw joint
The goal of a TMJ exercise is to prevent clicking of the jaw joint and to strengthen the muscles that pull the jaw backwards. These exercises also reduce muscle and joint tension, which can give the patient long-term relief. Some of the best exercises for a TMJ disorder include:
- Relaxed jaw exercise
To perform a relaxed jaw exercise, rest the tongue gently on top of the mouth behind the upper front teeth. It is important to let the teeth come apart when you are relaxing the jaw muscles.
- Chin tucks
In order to do a chin tuck, you must essentially make a double chin on purpose. To do this, put your shoulders back and your chest up. Hold this position for three seconds and repeat up to ten times. The purpose of this position is to alleviate tension at the front of the neck and in the jaw, and open space in the neck which will help relieve headache and neck pain.
- Tongue up
This exercise is pretty simple. Slowly open and close the mouth while you touch your tongue to the roof of the mouth. The purpose of this position is to help keep the jaw muscles relaxed.
- Side-to-side jaw movement
To do this exercise, put an object that is ¼ of an inch, like stacked tongue depressors, between the front teeth and move the jaw from side to side. This will allow you to perform necessarily daily activities like talking, chewing, and yawning with greater ease.
- Resisted mouth closing
Squeeze your chin with the thumb and index finger of both hands. Next, open the mouth by dropping the jaw again and use the fingers to place resistance on the chin while closing the mouth. This exercise will help strengthen the jaw.
- Face massage
Although this is not exactly an exercise, a simple face massage can be a great way to give yourself some much needed relief. This is a form of manual therapy that will help restore the muscle tone and balance of the TMJ muscles. It is best to use slow, circular movements and apply heat if necessary.
Where to Go for TMJ Treatment
While it is great to be aware of the various treatments that can help you if you have a TMJ disorder flare-up at home, it can also be helpful to seek professional treatment for the condition. If inflammation in the area worsens, your symptoms might worsen as well. What many people might not know about this pesky jaw disorder is that many dentists actually offer treatment. The team at Austell Dental Associates, for example, can help patients overcome TMJ disorder through a variety of treatments. One route we might take would be to accurately align the joint into its proper position and allow the muscles to relax. Before we move forward with any treatment, we will examine the bite and jawbone so we can gain a better understanding of the root cause of your issues. From there, our goal will be to treat the pain as efficiently and effectively as possible, so you can get back to enjoying your life without jaw pain.
To learn more about TMJ treatments from Austell Dental Associates, call us at (770) 467-3888 or contact us online.