TMJ Exercises: Exercises to Heal TMJ Disorder

We have a joint in the jaw which moves up and down and helps us in chewing, yawning or talking. This jaw joint is often called as TMJ or the Temporomandibular Joint. TMJ disorders or TMD are now known to affect more than 10 million Americans, as per the reports from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Yes! This is a big reason to worry for people who are unaware of the TMJ disorders, their symptoms, causes and their effective treatments. So, how about taking a look on these TMJ disorders and know about some of the most effective exercises which can help us reduce the symptoms and treat the disorder in a natural way?

TMJ Exercises: Exercises to Heal TMJ Disorder

Some Facts About TMJ and TMJ Disorders:

Here are some facts about TMJ and the TMJ disorders below.

  • TMJ is the Temporomandibular joint which is the joint of jaw aiding us in moving our jaw up and down while talking, yawning or chewing.
  • Two bones, i.e. the upper temporal bone (part of cranium or the skull) and the lower jawbone (Mandible); form this TMJ. Thus, the name comes Temporomandibular joints
  • TMJ disorders are also called as TMD in short. Here you might have problems with your jaw and any of the muscles present in your face controlling the jaw.
  • TMD often causes serious pain in the patient and gets extreme discomfort.
  • TMJ disorders can be either temporary or remain for many years.
  • It is known that both men and women get affected by the TMJ disorders, yet the percentage of affected women is far more than the affected men.
  • TMJ disorders might either affect one particular side of the face or may affect both the sides.
  • Most common symptoms of TMJ disorders include the pain or loss of jaw movements, earache, headache, pain in face, dizziness, popping noises while opening and closing your mouth, swelling of face, problem chewing or talking, etc
  • Injury to jaw, or the TMJ or the muscles of your neck and head etc can lead to the TMD or the TMJ disorders.
  • Arthritis affecting in the Temporomandibular joint can cause the TMJ disorder.
  • Stress which makes you tightens your jaw or facial muscles or to clench the teeth can cause the TMJ disorder.

Though there are several treatment methods available for treating TMJ disorders, your surgeon or dentist will follow the absolute treatment procedure that would suit the best for your TMJ condition.

There will also be some exercises prescribed by your dentist to help you heal your TMJ condition in more effective manner once your medical treatments go well. We will be discussing about some of those TMJ exercises in the following section of our article.

What Are The TMJ Exercises?

“Exercise! Soon you are going to feel amazing!” So, here we come to the section mentioning about some of the most effective TMJ exercises.

  1. TMJ Exercise-1: Below are the steps explaining the procedure to do the exercise.
    • Close your mouth and touch both, the upper and the lower teeth without clenching them.
    • Rest your tongue tip on your palate just behind your upper teeth
    • Now, run the tip of your tongue towards the back to your soft palate as far as possible. Make sure you are keeping your teeth together
    • Force your tongue gently backwards so as to maintain contact with the soft palate
    • Now slowly open your mouth and notice the tongue gets pulled away. Keep your mouth in this position for at least five seconds and then close your mouth to relax
    • Repeat the process for five minutes and do it twice a day.
    • Do not do the exercise for more than five minutes and stop the exercise if you hear any clicks or any noise from your joints while opening your mouth during the exercise.
    • You are supposed to feel tension under your chin and in the backside of your neck.
  2. TMJ Exercise-2: Here below are the steps explained for this TMJ exercise
    • Sit comfortably on a high backed chair keeping your head back on the head rest with you lightly closed mouth.
    • Now place the web of your thumb and the forefinger against the front of the lower jaw; on the outer side of your mouth.
    • Gently force your lower jaw backwards and your head towards the headrest of the chair, by hand press on your chin. Make sure not to allow your head or neck to flex and also not to open your mouth.
    • If you are doing it clearly then as your lower jaw moves back you feel all your lower teeth moving backwards in relation to the upper teeth.
    • Now finally relax and allow your jaw to move forward once again with your chin on the same level. Make a note not to look up and down while doing this.
    • Repeat this for five times and do the exercise several times a day for better results.
  3. TMJ Exercise-3: Check out the steps for doing this exercise below.
    • The steps are almost similar to the previous exercise mentioned here, i.e. the exercise-2.
    • So, start with your comfortable sitting on a high backed head, closing your mouth and relaxing your head on the headrest and gently force your lower jaw and head backwards with the help of your thumb and forefingers. Here you will feel a stretch at the jaw joint when done correctly. Make sure you are not opening your mouth any extra.
    • Now slowly push forward your lower jaw and not the entire head. Push it against your hands and hold fast for at least 2 seconds.
    • Then let your hands relax and only with the help of your jaw muscles push it more forward your lower jaw in a way that the teeth protrude slightly out. Hold it for couple of seconds
    • Repeat the same for 3-4 times and do this several times a day.
  4. TMJ Exercise-4: Below are the steps for the exercise.
    • Gently close your upper and lower teeth against each other.
    • Rest our tongue tip against the top of your mouth, just behind the front teeth.
    • Next, run the tongue tip towards the back along the top of your mouth with your closed teeth, until you just reach the soft palate.
    • Finally slowly and carefully open your mouth keeping your tongue against the soft palate. Immediately stop opening the mouth when you feel your tongue being pulled away from the soft palate.
    • Hold this for two seconds and then relax.
    • Repeat it for at a max of two times when you are beginning this exercise.
  5. Other TMJ Exercises:
    • Chewing gums simply can be a natural TMJ exercise.
    • Relaxation techniques like deep and slow breathing, which help in enhancing relaxation and modulates the pain sensations can be helpful

What Are The Exercises To Stop The TMJ Pain From Returning Back?

Now; you do not want to get the TMJ pain or the symptoms of TMJ disorder return back to you. So what would you do? Here below are some of the exercises you can keep on in your daily routine and prevent self from the TMJ pain returning back to you.

  1. Temporomandibular Joint Exercise To Prevent Recurrence of TMD: Resisted mouth opening and mouth closing

    • Place your thumb under your chin and then slowly open your mouth
    • Slightly push up your chin with your thumb gently while opening the mouth
    • Hold this for about 3-5 seconds and then gently close your mouth
    • For resisted closing of mouth exercise you need to put your thumb under chin and two index fingers on the ridge between the bottom of your chin and your mouth
    • Push down gently on your chin while closing your mouth.
  2. Temporomandibular Joint Exercise To Prevent Recurrence of TMD: Side-to-side jaw movement

    • Hold a long object like a pen or pencil or a stick with the help of your front teeth.
    • Now, move your jaw from side to side very slowly
    • As you find the exercise turning easier and you being comfortable with it, increase the size of the object like moving on to hold a marker pen which is relatively more thicker in size than compared to the pencil.
  3. Temporomandibular Joint Exercise To Prevent Recurrence of TMD: Tongue-up exercise

    This is a simple exercise where you simply need to open and close your mouth slowly while touching the roof of your mouth with your tongue.

  4. Temporomandibular Joint Exercise To Prevent Recurrence of TMD: Forward jaw movement

    • Hold a long object like a pen or pencil or a stick with the help of your front teeth
    • Move your lower jaw forward so that the lower teeth are in front of the upper teeth
    • As the exercise get easier and you become comfortable with it, slowly increase the thickness or the size of the object like moving on to hold a marker pen which is relatively more thicker in size than compared to the pencil.

What To Avoid:

Now, you can ask what things to avoid when you are running with the TMJ disorder condition. So here is the list you need to check below.

  • Avoid gum chewing
  • Avoid clenching of jaw
  • Ignore cradling of the telephone between the jaw and the shoulders. This may irritate the neck and the jaw muscles and can increase the pain in TMD
  • Avoid clenching of things like pen, pencil etc in between your teeth
  • Also make sure to avoid opening your mouth all the way while yawning, singing or shouting
  • Avoid chewing of nails and biting of nails.

FAQs on TMJ Exercises:

  1. Does TMJ exercises work for everybody? No! TMJ exercises does not work for everybody. It depends on the level of the TMJ disorder or the condition of the patient in TMD and the amount of exercise one does with strictness.
  2. How long does it take to reduce the pain in TMJ disorder with the TMJ exercises? It is difficult to predict this. However, most of the people who do TMJ exercises can feel the reduction in jaw pain after 3-4 days of exercising.
  3. Can TMJ exercises alone work in treating the TMJ disorder or is it required to take the medical help in case of TMD? It is essential to take the essential medical treatments at first and then proceed on for the TMJ exercises for better healing.


It must be remembered that TMJ disorders or the TMJ pain if not treated well on time may cause real serious issues in future. So it is mandatory to consult with your doctor soon you start getting the symptoms of TMD or soon your pain in jaw begins. It must also be noted that TMJ exercises are required to be done proper in manner with doctor’s consultation and there should not be any pain with these TMJ exercises. In case any of the growing sign of pain due to the exercises do stop exercising immediately and visit your doctor soon.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 26, 2022

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