After surgery, Athletes who injure their ACL are encouraged to undergo physical therapy to help rebuild their strength, and ensure their leg heals properly. Patients who injure their back or suffer from continual sciatica pain and encouraged to do the same. Physical therapy has been used regularly to help patients heal and alleviate pain, so that begs the question: could it work for TMJ? Temporomandibular joint disorder is essentially a system complex used to describe a wide array of symptoms connected to the temporomandibular joint, which connects the mandible to the jaw and allows for multiple ranges of motion. Since physical therapy has been used to treat several different types of joint pain, why couldn’t it work in this case?

woman having physical therapy on her jaw

Research Supporting Physical-therapy Type Exercises

As a matter of fact, this question has been tested by researchers, T. Haketa and K. Kino, and published in the Journal of Dental Research in 2010. In this randomized clinical trial, researchers wanted to test the benefits of therapeutic exercise in reducing TMJ pain. With over 60 patients, researchers assigned various exercises to a group of individuals, and found that after undergoing a certain number of these exercises, the maximum mouth-opening range increased, generalized pain decreased, and limitations in function decreased. What this demonstrated is that these exercises could have a valuable place in TMJ treatment in the future.

Are You Hoping to Alleviate Jaw Pain?

Jaw pain, frequent headaches, and even vertigo are just some of the symptoms associated with TMJ, and often individuals will have these symptoms for a long time before finding an effective treatment. Some of the exercises used by patients in this study, include:

Jaw Depressions

Jaw depression exercises can be used to increase your mouth-opening range without pain. Performing these exercises is simple: with your tongue placed on the roof of your mouth, begin wideing your jaw as wide as you can until you begin to feel pain. Perform this in a controlled manner ten times, in two complete sets.

Resistance Training

Resistance training is a great way to strengthen your jaw and alleviate pain. Perform these exercises by using your fingers to offer resistance when closing and opening of your mouth. The first is performed by placing your thumb under your chin, and slowly opening your mouth while applying pressure. The next exercise is similar, only with opposite movements. Place your thumb on your chin and begin closing your mouth with resistance.

Ask Your Dentist For Help

Another option for pain-relief is a simple one: ask your dentist for help. A dentist trained in neuromuscular dentistry can provide several drug-free treatment options, including the use of a TENS unit (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation), which relaxes your jaw and allows your dentist to accurately assess the damage. In other cases, they can suggest a mouth splint designed to help your jaw rest while it heals itself.

TMJ can be complicated to understand, and this page contains some technical information that may be easier to understand in person. Dr. Adam Hahn is an expert at explaining it in plain, straightforward language. To talk to them about TMJ, please call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today for an appointment