It’s possible that you don’t consider your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) often however, you do use often. The joints connect the jawbone to your skull. Your TMJ is activated every time you speak or chew. You also swallow.

TMJ disorders happen when something is wrong in your jaw joints or jaw muscles. It is usually because of a bite injury, inflammation, such as arthritis, or from overuse.

TMJ disorders can cause symptoms that range from mild to debilitating including:

discomfort when chewing
tension in the ear jaw, face, neck
clicking or grating noises in your jaw whenever you close or open your mouth
The jaw joint is locked
headaches

It’s not known precisely how TMJ exercises can ease discomfort. They’re believed to help:

strengthen jaw muscles
The jaw can be stretched
Relax the jaw
improve jaw mobility
reduce jaw clicking
promote jaw healing

According to a study from 2010 that was published by the Journal of Dental Research, the practice of TMJ exercises improves mouth opening greater than using a mouthguard for those suffering from TMJ disk displacement.

These nine exercises provided by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) as well as The Royal Surrey County Hospital may aid in relieving TMD jaw pain and enhance the motion that your jaw joints can perform. For certain exercises there are frequency suggestions. For exercises for which there aren’t any frequency recommendations consult your physician or dentist for assistance.

1. Relaxed jaw exercises

Place your tongue gently at the roof of your mouth, behind your front teeth. Relax your jaw and allow your teeth to fall apart as you relax the jaw muscles.

2. Goldfish exercises (partial opening)

Put your mouth on surface of your mouth. Then, place one finger behind your ear, where your TMJ is. Place your pointer or middle finger on your jaw. Lower your jaw about half way and then close it. There should be a slight resistance , but not painful. An alternative to this exercise is to place one hand on each TMJ while you open your lower jaw and close it once more. Repeat this exercise 6 times in one set. The goal is to complete one set every day six times.

3. Goldfish exercise (full opening)

While keeping your tongue to the top of your mouth, put one thumb on TMJ and the other finger on your cheek. Then, drop your lower jaw completely, then return. For a variation on this exercise, put an extra finger in each of the jaws while you lower your jaw. Then, you can go return. Repeat the exercise six times in order to complete a set. The goal is to complete one set of six times a day.

4. Chin tucks

While your back is relaxed and shoulders are raised, with chest raised and your chest up, pull your chin forward to create the appearance of a “double chin.” Do this for 3 seconds, then repeat 10 times.

5. Resisted opening the mouth

Put your thumb underneath your chin. Relax your mouth and slowly open it by gently pressing your chin to create resistance. Keep it open for 3 to 6 seconds and then close your mouth gently.

6. The mouth was not closed.

Press your chin against your thumb and index fingers with your other hand. Close your mouth while you gently press your cheeks. This helps to strengthen your muscles and aid in chewing.

7. Tongue up

Your tongue should be resting on the surface of your mouth. Slowly expand and close your mouth.

8. Side-to-side jaw movement

Set a 1/4-inch object, for example, tongue depressors stacked behind your front teeth and gradually shift the jaw side-to-side. When the process gets easier, you can make the object that is placed between your teeth . You can stack them on top of the next.

9. Forward jaw movement

Set a 1/4-inch item between the front of your teeth. Your jaw will move towards the front so that you have your lower teeth the front of your upper teeth. When the exercise becomes more comfortable then increase the thickness of the object that is between your teeth.

The over-the counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen could assist in relieving TMJ discomfort. Relaxers for muscles may be prescribed to treat severe pain. Doctors might also recommend:

mouth guards to stop jaw clenching and teeth grinding
mouth guards can help you align your jaw.
warm towels
Ice, not more than 15 mins per hour, and never directly onto the skin
techniques for stress relief to avoid jaw tension
Acupuncture is a method of relieving the pressure on the affected area.

The severe pain that is caused by joint damage may require more aggressive treatments, like corticosteroid injections into TMJ. Surgery is often considered the last option. There’s no scientific proof that surgical treatments for TMJ problems are safe or efficient.

TMJ pain can also be treated by simple lifestyle adjustments. You could consider:

Eat a soft diet to allow your TMJ to ease.
Beware of chewing gum
avoid biting your nails
avoid biting your lower lip
Make sure you practice a to maintain a good posture
restrain jaw movements with large movements that cause jaw movement, like yawning or singing

If you suffer from TMJ, it can be painful to perform simple oral hygiene. This means flossing your teeth, brushing and regular dental cleanings.

The TMJ Association recommends these tips to help ease pain and keep your gums and teeth remain well-maintained:

Make use of a soft-bristle or a sonic one.
Make use of a rubber tip stimulator or water flosser if aren’t able to open your mouth to floss.
Make sure to add an antiseptic mouth rinse to your routine dental routine.
Contact your dentist when you’re feeling pain or discomfort during an oral procedure.
Use ice or heat following the dental procedure.
Consult your dentist about methods of removing plaque that are not flossing. For instance, they could recommend wiping your teeth clean using cotton gauze.

In some instances, TMJ disorders go away by themselves. If your symptoms persist, TMJ exercises may help bring pain relief. TMJ exercises should not be performed during times of extreme discomfort. The AAFP suggests waiting until the discomfort is less severe before beginning an TMJ workout routine.

When you are doing TMJ exercises, you should start gradually. You might feel some pain initially however, it should be manageable, and then gradually decrease. If the pain is not manageable Consult your physician. You should perform TMJ exercises while at ease. If you exercise when your muscles are tight it could derail the point.

If your pain gets worse after you’ve done TMJ exercises, schedule an appointment with your doctor.