The New Year has traditionally been an opportunity for change, an opportunity to cut bad habits or start positive ones. For some, this might mean cutting sugar, eating more vegetables, or finally quitting smoking, and for others, this might mean getting their butts to the gym. There’s a reason the New Year has been called Black Friday for the health and fitness industry. If you’ve been working on your resolutions, we’ve got one more for you: getting a handle on your TMJ pain.
The temporomandibular joint functions as a hinge connecting your jaw to the temporal bones at the front of each ear. Problems with this joint, including TMJ, are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD), and can arise for variety of reasons like arthritis, anxiety, or overuse of the muscle. If you suffer from the disorder, you’re aware of the array of painful complications it can cause. Some experiencing lockjaw, ringing in the ears, and headaches.
If you’ve been suffering from TMD throughout the year, but want go into 2018 pain free, try these five exercises. According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Dental Research, TMD exercises can increase mouth opening range significantly, and can improve symptoms.
To perform this exercise, grab your hands behind your back, straighten your shoulders, pull your chin straight back, hold for ten seconds, then pull your chin down, and hold for ten seconds. Repeat these movements until you’ve done three sets of each.
Resistance Training, Open and Close
Placing your thumb under your chin and gently pressing upward, open your mouth slowly against this resistance. Hold this position for six seconds, then close your mouth slowly. Repeat for six sets.
For the next exercise, do the opposite. Squeeze your chin with both hand, and slowly close your mouth against this resistance. Both of these exercises together can strengthen your mouth for chewing.
Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth, and slowly open and close your mouth. Do this ten times and repeat for six sets.
Side-to-side Jaw Stretches
With a quarter inch object between your teeth, slowly move your jaw from side to side. To add difficulty to the exercise, increase the size of the object.
Forward Jaw Stretch
With a quarter inch object between your front teeth, slowly stretch your bottom teeth forward so that your bottom teeth pass your top. Much like with the side-to-side stretches, to add difficulty to this exercise, increase the size of the object.
While exercises can be incredibly effective at relieving jaw pain, they might not be enough. If you’ve been suffering TMD pain for a while, then you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible, as many drug-free treatments are available.