Jaw Exercises to Help Relieve TMD Pain and Stiffness

Patients with jaw muscle stiffness or pain often find a significant improvement with jaw stretching exercises. Symptoms may improve with simple jaw-stretching exercise 6 times per day between 30 to 60 seconds each time at the opening and duration you determine best for you. Warm your muscles before stretching by opening and closing slowly about 10 times. You may also apply moist heat for about 5 minutes to warm the muscles. To determine what opening and duration are best for you the first time stretch, bend your index finger and place the knuckle between your upper and lower front teeth (Figure 1). Hold this position for 30 seconds. If your symptoms are not aggravated, increase the time to 45 seconds, then 60 seconds. If this does not aggravate your symptoms increase your opening width to 2 knuckles (Figure 2) and cut back your time to 30 seconds. Continue increasing your time and opening in this manner, but do not go beyond three fingertips. Find the largest opening and duration that does not cause even the slightest symptoms and use this each time as you stretch. If you experience any discomfort or aggravation, decrease your opening or time.

Figure 1                                             Figure 2