You may not think much about your temporomandibular joints (TMJ), but you use them to smile, laugh, talk and chew. The TMJ can be found on each side of the head at the base of the skull. They connect your lower jaw to your skull.
TMJ pain can hurt your jaw and radiate to your neck, face and head. If you’re experiencing chronic pain with your TMJ, chances are you may have temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Some common symptoms of TMD are:
- Pain in the face, jaw or ear area
- Headaches (often mimicking migraines), earaches as well as pain and pressure behind the eyes
- A clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the mouth
- A jaw that’s stuck, locked or goes out of place
- Tenderness of the jaw muscles
- Swelling of the face
Exercises To Help Relieve TMJ Pain
There are TMJ exercises that can alleviate pain. We advise attempting these exercises while the initial ache has subdued to keep the pain from returning.
Gently stretch your jaw and joint area. If you experience any pain while doing this exercise, stop immediately. You may need more time before engaging the joint.
Relax your jaw and slowly open your mouth as wide as you can while looking up with your eyes. Hold your mouth open for a few seconds before slowly closing it. When your mouth is closed, move your jaw to the left while looking to your left with your eyes. Don’t turn your head or neck. Hold this position for a few seconds, then move back to your original position. Repeat this technique on the opposite side.
TMJ pain is often caused by tension-producing stress. If this is the case, you can incorporate some relaxation techniques to ease the tension. Mayo Clinic recommends breathing exercises to reduce the pressure in the jaw muscles. Consciously slow your breathing and take regular breaths. Although some might not consider this a form of exercise, doing this can relax tense muscles and reduce TMJ pain.
Other Ways To Manage TMD
A dental professional will be able to diagnose and treat your TMD. Some treatment options to relieve your TMJ pain may include:
- Wearing a nightguard to reduce teeth grinding and clenching
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Although rare, surgery is sometimes required to correct TMD
Severe jaw pain can impact your quality of life. If you’re having TMJ issues or experiencing problems with teeth grinding or other jaw-related issues, schedule a visit with your dentist at Kildonan Crossing Dental Centre right away. Not a registered patient at our clinic? We accept new patients! You can book an appointment virtually or find us at the northwest corner of Lagimodiere Boulevard and Regent Avenue.