A healthy smile is important for your appearance and self-esteem, but also your overall comfort. Unfortunately, you may be part of a large population that deals with popping, clicking, and pain in their teeth and jaw. TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, affects an estimated 10 million Americans. If you are experiencing jaw pain, headaches, difficulty opening and closing your mouth, and locking of your jaw, it is imperative that you visit the dentist, such as Hughes Thomas R. While TMJ often requires involved orthodontic treatments or invasive surgical procedures, you may be able to relieve the pain on your own. Using these exercises, you can relieve your TMJ pain and live a more comfortable life.

Opening Stretch

The temporomandibular joint connects your jawbone to your skull, and when you open and close your mouth, the joint acts as a sliding hinge. TMJ disorder causes this joint to stick, resulting in pain and problems opening your mouth for eating, chewing, speaking, or yawning.

To decrease the joint pain, consider stretching your mouth in an opened-wide position for 5 to 10 minutes. Complete multiple times per day, increasing the time you can hold the stretch.

Aligning your Bite

If your TMJ is caused by an issue with your bite, your dentist may recommend orthodontic braces or surgery to realign your bite. While effective in most cases, these treatments can be costly, time-consuming, and dangerous. To reduce your discomfort, consider moving your jaw into an aligned position.

Open your mouth wide before moving the top level of your teeth down onto the bottom level. Be sure the back of each level is straight and aligned with the back of your bottom teeth. Hold this bite position in place for 30 seconds before releasing. Then, repeat throughout the day.

While this manual alignment will not permanently repair your bite, it can be a great option for relieving pain in your temporomandibular joint.

Lifting Weights

Lifting weights with your mouth is most likely not an appealing exercise for your TMJ, but moving a simple pencil around in your mouth can reduce pain and increase the strength of your temporomandibular joint.

Place a traditional pencil in your mouth and gently bite the middle to hold it in place. Move your bottom jaw to the left, holding the pencil in place. Hold the stretch for 5 minutes before releasing. With the pencil back in the middle of your mouth, move your lower jaw to the right and hold for 5 minutes. Repeat the process multiple times per day, increasing the amount of time you can hold the stretch.

Treating the cause of your TMJ is key for permanent relief. However, exercising and stretching your temporomandibular joint can reduce the symptoms of your TMJ.