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12 Best TMJ Exercises To Relieve Jaw Pain And Headache

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ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
12 Best TMJ Exercises To Relieve Jaw Pain And Headache April 5, 2019

A whopping 25% of Americans suffer from TMJ disorder (1). TMJ or the temporomandibular joint is the joint of your jaw. It facilitates activities like eating, talking, and swallowing. Trauma to the jaw, clenching, stress, or arthritis may trigger TMJ disorder. As a result, you may suffer from dull jaw pain, facial numbness, headache, and reduced range of motion (ROM) (2). TMJ exercises (along with medical treatment) are highly recommended to get relief from pain (3), (4). Here are 12 best TMJ exercises that you MUST do regularly to get back to your daily life soon. Read on!

Which Points Are You Going To Work On?

You will be working on four points:

  • The area attaching the top of the ear to the skull
  • The tragus part of your ear
  • The bottom of the earlobe
  • The angle of your jaw

1. Relaxed Jaw Exercise

How To Do
  1. Place your tongue against the back of your upper incisors (front two teeth).
  2. Allow your mouth to open a little and relax your jaw muscles.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 8 reps. Do this 6 times a day.

2. Goldfish Exercises (Partial Opening)

How To Do
  1. Stand in front of a mirror. Place one index finger on your TMJ and the other index finger on your chin.
  2. With the help of your index finger, drop your lower jaw a little and close it up.
  3. Make sure you open your jaw in a straight line, and your tongue stays in place against the back of your incisors.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 10 reps. Do this 6 times a day.

3. Goldfish Exercises (Full Opening)

How To Do
  1. Stand in front of a mirror, and place an index finger on each TMJ.
  2. Place your tongue against the back of your upper incisors.
  3. Lower your jaw and close it up.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 8 reps. Do this 5 times a day.

4. Chin Tucks

 

How To Do
  1. Stand in front of a mirror with your shoulders relaxed and chest up. This is your starting position.
  2. Pull your chin straight down and create a double chin.
  3. Get back to the starting position.

Sets And Reps

2 sets of 10 reps. Do this 5 times a day.

5. Resisted Opening Of The Mouth

 

How To Do
  1. Place your thumb under your chin.
  2. Open your mouth while you apply resistance by pushing your thumb against your chin gently.
  3. Hold this for 3-6 seconds. Close your mouth.
Sets And Reps

2 sets of 10 reps. Do this 5 times a day.

6. Resisted Closing Of The Mouth

 

How To Do
  1. Place both index fingers on your chin and both thumbs under it.
  2. Open your mouth.
  3. Squeeze your chin with your index finger to apply resistance and close your mouth.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 8 reps. Do this 5 times a day.

7. Tongue-To-Roof

 

How To Do

Touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue and try opening and closing your mouth.

Sets And Reps

2 sets of 10 reps. Do this 3 times a day.

8. The Side Slide

 

How To Do
  1. Relax your jaw and open your mouth.
  2. Slide your jaw to the right and look to your left. Do not move your neck or head.
  3. Hold this pose for 3 seconds and then recenter your jaw.
  4. Slide your jaw to the left and look to your right.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 8 reps. Do this 5 times a day.

9. Forward Jaw Movement

 

How To Do
  1. Put an object that is ¼ inch thick between your teeth. This is your starting position.
  2. Move your bottom jaw forward so that your lower teeth are in front of your upper teeth.
  3. Come back to the starting position.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 8 reps. Do this 5 times a day.

10. Wide Stretch

 

How To Do

1. Relax your jaw and part your teeth slightly.
2. Open your mouth slowly, as wide as possible, and look up.
3. Hold this pose for 5-6 seconds.
4. Close your mouth and relax.

Sets And Reps

2 sets of 5 reps. Do this 3 times a day.

11. Mandibular Stabilization Exercises

 

How To Do
  1. Place your thumb under the chin.
  2. Smile slightly and apply gentle pressure on the chin with your thumb.
  3. Hold this for a second. Move your thumb to the right and place it on the angle of the jaw and repeat.
  4. Move your thumb to the left and place it on the angle of the jaw and repeat.
Sets And Reps

2 sets of 5 reps. Do this 3 times a day.

12. Occipital Lifts

How To Do
  1. Place a thumb at the back of each ear, fingers pointing up your head.
  2. Lift the right side of your head slightly and pull down on the left side. It will make your head tilt.
  3. Do the same on the other side.
Sets And Reps

2 sets of 5 reps. Do this 3 times a day.

There you have it – 12 easy TMJ exercises, a few of which you can do anywhere. But the question is, are these exercises safe? Let’s find out.

Are TMJ Exercises Safe?

Yes, TMJ exercises are safe. But you must talk to your doctor or physiotherapist before starting these exercises. Also, start gently and slowly. You might feel pain initially, but it will get better as you keep relaxing and exercising the jaw.

Living with constant dull pain in your jaw may take a toll on the quality of your life. Medicines help, but to get extra help, include TMJ exercises in your routine. You will see a great difference and soon, TMJ disorder/dysfunction will become a problem of the past. Start today and get the best out of these exercises. Take care!

References

  1. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders: A Review of Etiology, Clinical Management, and Tissue Engineering Strategies” The International journal of oral & maxillofacial implants, US National Library of Medicine.
  2. Temporomandibular Joint Pain” Clinical Methods – The History, Physical, And Laboratory Examinations, 3rd Edition, US National Library of Medicine.
  3. The Effect of Relaxation Exercises for the Masticator Muscles on Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)” Journal of Physical Therapy Science, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Temporomandibular disorders. Part 2: conservative management” The Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, US National Library of Medicine.