As we said earlier in other articles Temporomandibular Joint problems can be frustrating. They are accompanied with headaches, pain of the joint when opening or closing the mouth, neck pain etc. Since the TMJ joint is a complicated jaw the source of the problem differs from one person to another. This means that even the treatments differ from one person to another, and also the time of the treatment differs from person to person.
TMJ disease can be caused by different conditions and one of the most common causes is the tension of the muscles due to their imbalance. Stress causes teeth clenching and grinding which increases the tension of the muscles causing pain. The easier remedies for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder are TMJ exercises. There are different types of exercises and some are so simple that can be done at home and may relief your pain in a couple of days.
The TMJ exercises not only will help you with the symptoms and the discomfort but they might also resolve the muscular tension that is causing the Temporomandibular Disease. All you need is determination and patience. TMJ physical therapy will e serve several purposes like strengthen masticator muscles, loosen the tension of the masticator muscles, eliminate the clicking and popping of the jaw and the most important thing they eliminate the pain and symptoms of TMD.
First of all remember that the most important thing to do to stop jaw pain is the adequate rest of the joint; this means eating soft foods like soup, boiled vegetables, pasta etc. Do not chew gums all day long and avoid opening your mouth wide for different reasons like yawning.
If you are feeling acute pain you should take a wood stick like the one used in ice-creams or a pencil and keep it between your front teeth like you are trying to cut it in half until the pain reduces. This helps relaxing the masticator muscles stopping the pain. Then try out at home these exercises we are giving.
TMJ Stretches - The best TMJ exercises you can do are the stretching exercise to help you relive the tension of the muscles. Before you start any physical therapy you need to heat up your joint and the muscles by using a warm wet cloth, or by using a HEAT PAD that are even simpler to use. These heat pads have a metal coin that you have to press and they start to heat up. While you heat up the joint you should move your lower jaw from side to side, also open and close your mouth.
After a couple of minutes start with the stretching exercise.
- Put your index finger on your lower anterior teeth and push down stretching the muscles until they feel tight and hold it for 6 seconds or even 10 if you can. Remember to hold the warm cloth or heat pad on the joint.
- The second exercise is to take a ruler, put it on your mouth and measure how much you open your mouth. You should open it to 40-45 mm or more if you can.
- After you have finished all that take an ice cube and put it to your joint, careful not over your muscles or face but directly on the joint and keep it for 5-10 seconds.
These TMJ stretches will reduce the pain and discomfort in a couple of days and you should start to open your mouth without problems. If the pain persists, you still can’t open your mouth for at least 40-45 mm or if you feel pain while exercising than stop and you really need to go to a dentist, because maybe you need a more invasive therapy.
TMJ exercises - This exercises intent to strengthen the jaw muscles so you will have less popping or clicking and will prevent any locking of the jaw in the future, stabilizing your jaw.
Starting from the right side with two right fingers push the jaw to the left. Put your fingers near the chin and push but don’t let the jaw move. It should last for 5 seconds.
Repeat the same thing from the left side.
Put your thumb down your chin and push your jaw like you want to close it but at the same time press your jaw against your thumb. Do this exercise for 5 seconds.
Put your thumb on the anterior part of the chin and push it as you want to push the jaw back on your ear. The same thing here put pressure on both thumb and jaw against each other for 5 seconds
Neck Stretch - Stand up straight, extend your head back like you are looking at the ceiling and hold for 5 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your throat. Then the opposite dropping your head forward like looking at the floor feeling a little stretch on the back of the neck. The same here hold for 5 seconds.
Temporal massage - Massage the area of your temples with three fingers with rotating movements for about 10 seconds. The same massage try on the jaw, putting your fingers below and in front of your ear. This movement massages the masseter muscles that are the one that gets most of the pressure.
You should do these exercises one time, once a day in the first week and twice around, once a day for the second and third week. Then the fourth and fifth week do these exercises twice around twice a day. The best timing would be in the mornings and before going to bed.
All these exercises will help you get some relief from TMD Pain, but we cant say that all people are the same. So we cant really say how much time is needed to stop the pain or if it will stop forever. So if the TMJ symptoms persist you should go to a doctor because maybe your TMJ Disorder can have other causes than tension of the mastication muscles and might need a different TMJ treatment.