Slow, gentle jaw exercises are likely to improve jaw mobility and healing, according to The TMJ Association. Therapeutic jaw exercises have been found to bring earlier recovery of jaw function.
A study conducted at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University showed that therapeutic exercise effectively increases recovery of jaw function, particularly for anterior disc displacement without reduction, states TMJA. After eight weeks of treatment, the participants’ maximum mouth-opening range, maximum daily pain intensity and limitation of daily functions all significantly improved.
TMJA explains that the participants engaged in manual jaw-opening exercises, which involved repeated small mouth opening and closing movements. They positioned their fingertips on the edge of their mandibular anterior teeth and pulled the mandible slowly until pain occurred on the area affected by TMJ. Participants held this mouth-opening position for 30 seconds. Three cycles of this stretching movement was equivalent to one set. They performed four sets of the exercise daily, one after every meal and one while bathing.
TMJA also recommends relaxation techniques that help reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation and massage. Deep, slow breathing helps enhance relaxation and modulates pain sensations. A person should avoid clenching the jaw, chewing gum and cradling a telephone, which can irritate jaw and neck muscles.