Ever felt tension in your jaw? Maybe it’s gone so far as to start hurting because you clench your teeth so much. Some people even experience teeth grinding so intense that parts of their teeth are literally ground away. These are the most common symptoms of a jaw condition called TMJ syndrome and if any of these symptoms seem familiar, you might want to think about what you can do to start preventing or curing your TMJ.
There are a few options available to treat TMJ, each option will be effective at different levels for different people, with different severity in symptoms. The first and most drastic option is the dreaded TMJ surgery. There are a lot of different types obviously, but one of the most common practices if for a dentist to grind down your teeth so that your bite can adjust to a normal state. This isn’t a fool proof exercise though as the root causes of TMJ may still be there, so surgery will only serve as a delayer of symptoms.
Dentists also recommend the use of TMJ mouth guards. These are guards that are designed to do a similar thing to the TMJ surgery; that is to align your bite in a healthy position while you sleep. Unfortunately these guards can be very annoying and uncomfortable to sleep with and if you are very unlucky they can even make things worse by not aligning your bite properly. This can happen if you get a guard that isn’t fitted by a dentist.
Luckily there is a third option, one that I think everyone should try before the others and that is TMJ exercises. These exercises are designed by physical therapists to strengthen jaw muscles and tendons and relieve tension. By doing this the jaw can realign itself naturally and easily. This is no quick fix however, unlike the other two options you will have to continuously manage your exercises. On the plus side however, they are very easy and quick to do. They can be completed in as little as 10-15 minutes a day. If you’re not sure how to do them correctly, try having a look on youtube for some videos and do your exercises in the mirror for best results.
Basically the exercises involve adding a small amount of resistance to your jaw while you slide it left to right and up and down. It may not seem like much, but getting your muscles to start functioning the way they are meant to and building up strength will make a huge difference. You should of course lower the resistance or do the exercises with no resistance if there is pain at any time. As well as the resistance exercises, it’s also important to stretch your mouth and jaw regularly. This is also quite simple and involves you opening your mouth as wide as possible without pain and slowly you will notice that you can open it wider and wider each day.
Some people report pain relief immediately after they start using the exercises. This is not typical however and it will probably take at least a week before you start to notice significant changes in pain levels. The most important thing is to keep going and do the exercises regularly. Try to work them into your schedule and make them a daily routine.
So hopefully now you have a better idea of what’s causing your jaw pain and a few ideas as to how to go about treating it. If I were you I’d start of with exercises for TMJ as it’s the least invasive option which can have the most benefits.