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If you suffer from a misaligned jaw, you know that the symptoms of TMJ/TMD can be very painful, even interfering with your daily activities and work. The pain may affect more than just your jaws, and may extend to your:
- Upper and lower back
Many individuals avoid TMJ treatment, believing that it is too expensive or worrying that it may not reduce the pain. Even more individuals are unaware that they suffer from TMJ/TMD, believing that their headaches are the product of migraines or stress. However, if you suffer from tension headaches, clench your teeth, and experience clicking or popping in your jaws, the pain you suffer is probably TMJ related.
Alternatives To Surgery
For many years, it was believed that surgery was the only treatment for TMJ/TMD. However, neuromuscular dentistry has proven effective in alleviating the symptoms of TMJ and treating the cause without surgery. If you suffer from severe TMJ related pain, you should contact our neuromuscular dentist immediately.
New information is showing that minor TMJ and TMD pain can be managed and temporarily treated through jaw exercises designed to loosen the muscles and tendons and alleviate the tension which causes TMJ related pain.
Performing TMJ Exercises
While there are different exercise options recommended through various websites, the best exercise is the one that works for you. Not every TMJ exercise will work for every TMD patient, and you should not view exercises as a permanent treatment, particularly if you have not been examined by a neuromuscular dentist.
The simplest type of TMJ exercise allows your jaw to relax and rest in a more natural position through stretching out the tense muscles and tendons. You can begin by following these steps:
First, looking in the mirror, slowly and carefully open your jaw as wide as you can. Many TMD patients notice their lower jaw slip to one side or the other as a result of the TMJ symptoms, but you should try to keep your lower jaw directly aligned with your upper jaw. Slowly close your mouth, keeping your jaws aligned. Repeat this process 10 times in three repetitions. If pain is severe or worsen do not continue.
Next, slowly open your mouth by moving your jaw down and as far to the right as possible, in order to stretch your left jaw muscles. Slowly close your mouth and repeat this process in three sets of 10 repetitions. If pain is severe of worsens do not continue.
Finally, slowly repeat step two, but this time open your lower jaw down and as far to the left as possible. This will help stretch the jaw muscles on the other side of your face.
If any of these exercises cause increased or severe pain stop immediately and contact an experienced Neuromuscular Dentist. Do not continue exercises if pain worsens.
Just as with any other type of exercise, you should use caution performing these stretches, and be sure to consult a neuromuscular dentist if you experience any increased pain or discomfort.
You may not experience alleviation of your symptoms for 2-10 days after beginning these exercises. If pain worsens and discomfort persists after 10 days, it may be a sign of severe TMJ/TMD, stop exercises and you should undergo an examination by a qualified neuromuscular dentist immediately.
How Many Times a Day Should You Practice Your TMJ Exercises?
The number of times that you perform TMJ exercises daily is personal to you. This may depend on the severity of your symptoms, your schedule, and also on the advice that you receive from your dentist. Some people perform exercises as many as six times a day. When you begin performing TMJ exercises, it is wise to start slowly. As much as you want to achieve results that improve your comfort, it is possible to overdo jaw exercises to the point of worsening your situation.
What Other Home Remedies can Mitigate My TMJ Pain?
In addition to performing TMJ exercises, you may gain some relief from your painful symptoms through the following:
- Eating soft foods
- Cutting dense or harder foods into small pieces
- Avoiding chewy foods and chewing gum
- Applying cold or warm compresses to the side of the face for a few minutes
- Talking to your dentist about wearing a nightguard when you sleep
What Other TMJ Exercises Can I Practice to Lessen My Pain?
There are several examples and tutorials for TMJ exercises found online. Mariano Rocabado, DPT, developed a program that is referred to as "Rocabado's 6 x 6 exercises. These are designed to help restore normal joint mobility in the jaw. You can find these exercises online. Keep in mind that you must perform TMJ exercises when you are relaxed and must move slowly through each exercise.
Can TMJ Exercises Make Your Pain Worse?
It is essential to begin TMJ exercises with an abundance of caution. Some exercises may work wonderfully for you, while others do not. The key is to always relax your jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles prior to doing your selected exercises. Then, also start slowly every time you perform your exercises. This needs to happen whether it is your first round of exercises for the day or your last. Pain may occur if your muscles are too tense when engaging in TMJ exercises. While some degree of discomfort may be normal, actual pain is a sign that an exercise may not be right for you. If your TMJ exercises seem to increase your discomfort, schedule a visit to speak with your Neuromuscular Dentist in Mesa, AZ.
Dr. Scott LeSueur, Dr. Glenn LeSueur, and Dr. Charles Dodaro are Mesa dentists, serving Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler, and other East Valley Cities in Arizona, combine LVI training and state-of-the-art technology to bring you, and your entire family, the very best and healthiest cosmetic and neuromuscular dental care.