TMJ Pain Relief, and Exercises

woman with cold compress on side of face and jaw pain relief

Quick TMJ Pain Relief

Rest 

Avoid hard, chewy, or firm foods that require a lot of force to chew. If you enjoyed a nice juicy steak last night and your TMJ is flaring up today, give it a rest. Stick to a soft diet until the symptoms die down. Avoid chewing gum.

Massage And Physical Therapy 

What sore joints and muscles don’t feel better after a massage? You can work with a professional or get a home care sheet from your dentist to learn exercises, stretches, and massages that can help with TMJ pain relief.[1]

Warm Compresses

If you’re experiencing a flare-up, use a warm compress with a 20-minutes on, 20-minutes off schedule for a few hours.

Pain Relievers 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are ideal for temporary pain relief. But don’t take them for more than a day or two.

7 Quick And Easy TMJ Exercises 

These exercises from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) may help with pain and strengthen your jaw muscles.[2] We encourage you to speak with your doctor to find the best frequencies and cadences for these TMJ exercises. If you are experiencing too much pain to perform these TMJ exercises, contact your doctor.

A study from the Journal of Dental Research found that increasing the range of motion and strengthening the jaw muscles from TMJ exercises have to lead to increased jaw mobility.[3]

A study from the Journal of Dental Research found that increasing the range of motion and strengthening the jaw muscles from TMJ exercises have to lead to increased jaw mobility.

 

1) Resisted Open

  1. Resisted open TMJ Exercise
    Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth
  2. Place thumb under chin
  3. Open your mouth with light resistance from your thumb and hold for 5 seconds
  4. Repeat 5 times

2) Resisted Close

  1. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth
  2. Grip forefingers on top of chin and thumbs under chin
  3. Gentle resist while opening your mouth and hold for 5 seconds
  4. Repeat 5 times

3) Relaxed Jaw 

  1. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth and relax your jaw
  2. Open and close your relaxed jaw
  3. Repeat 8 times

4) Goldfish

  1. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth
  2. Place a finger on your TMJ and one on your chin
  3. Open your mouth allowing your jaw to drop down and close.
  4. Repeat 8 times

5) Chin Tuck 

  1. With good posture, pull chin back and hold for 5 seconds
  2. Repeat 5 times

6) Side To Side

  1. Place a popsicle stick or tongue press between your teeth
  2. Gently move jaw side to side
  3. Stack popsicle sticks or tongue press on top of each other to increase the range
  4. Perform for 15 seconds and repeat

7) Back And Forth

  1. Place a popsicle stick or tongue press between your teeth
  2. Gently move forward and back
  3. Stack popsicle sticks or tongue press on top of each other to increase range
  4. Perform for 15 seconds and repeat

TMJ Pain With Dental Care

Does your TMJ pain only flare up when you’re at the dentist? It’s probably because you have a long procedure and your mouth is open for so long. If that’s the case, talk to your dentist about using a bite prop to help you rest your jaw on. If possible, take frequent breaks and massage your jaw muscles when you can. After the appointment, take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen and apply a warm or cool compress to the side of your mouth to keep any swelling down.[4]

TMJ Mouth Guard

Probably the most common TMJ treatment out there is to get fitted with a special mouth guard, nightguard, or bite splint. Since TMD is often due to clenching and grinding, a mouth guard can train your joints to relax during the day, lessening the strain on muscles and providing TMJ pain relief.

The best type of mouth guard to wear is one that’s made by your dentist. That way it stays in place and fits securely when you’re sleeping. Or your dentist can make you a smaller version that’s easier to wear when you’re a work.

TMJ Disorder Recap

Everybody has a TMJ, but only some people have TMD/TMJD. If you’re in pain or can’t open and close your mouth normally, the symptoms could mean TMJ disorder. See your dentist for a routine exam and make them aware of any TMD symptoms that you’re experiencing. They’ll screen you and recommend the most appropriate treatment.

From there, you can create an action plan for any TMJ pain relief, be it a mouth guard, orthodontics, physical therapy, or something else. Just don’t wait until the symptoms are so bad that you can’t eat.