Jaw Problems: Exercise and Relaxation
To help prevent or treat a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), you can try gentle jaw exercises. You can also try techniques that help you relax your jaw muscles.
Try a gentle exercise to restore normal range of motion, improve flexibility, and strengthen the jaw muscles. Your doctor, dentist, or physical therapist can recommend additional exercises.
Do not do this exercise when your pain is severe or if it makes your pain worse.
- While watching yourself in a mirror, gently open and close your mouth, dropping your jaw straight up and down.
- Repeat for a few minutes each morning and night.
- Look for small improvements in the jaw's range of motion as you practice this exercise from day to day.
Paying attention to how you use your jaw can both prevent and help relieve symptoms.
Good habits that help relax and rest your jaw include:
- Keep your teeth apart and your lips closed.
- Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth, not between your teeth.
Avoid things that make your jaw tense:
- Cradling the telephone receiver between your shoulder and jaw.
- Opening your mouth all the way, as when singing loudly or yawning (try dropping your head to your chest to stifle a yawn).
- Clenching or grinding your teeth, biting your lips, or chewing your fingernails. Try to recognize when you are clenching your teeth, then relax your jaw and separate your teeth.
- Clenching things such as pens, pipes, or cigars between your teeth.