A protruding jaw is a condition that occurs when your lower jaw sticks out farther than your upper jaw, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. This condition can result in speech problems, trouble eating and swallowing and an unbalanced appearance. The problem can be so bad that surgery is required to correct the condition, but you may be able to treat the condition with exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles that attach your lower jaw to your body.
Open your mouth slightly so that your jaw is in a neutral position and grasp your jaw with both hands. Place your thumbs under your jaw and your index fingers inside your mouth to hold your lower jaw in place. Begin tightening the muscles as if you were closing your mouth, but apply enough resistance with your hands to hold your jaw in place. During this exercise you should contract your jaw muscles in each direction while holding your lower jaw stationary. Perform this exercise as if you were moving your jaw to open and close as well as from side to side. You should perform each movement six times and perform the entire exercise six times a day.
Open your mouth and begin moving your jaw in a circle. When performing this exercise your jaw should be open wide enough that you feel a slight stretch, but no pulling. If your condition requires it, you can begin with your jaw opened slightly and gradually make larger and larger circles until you can open your mouth as wide as it will go. Another jaw movement exercise is to use the muscles of your lower jaw to move it from side to side as far as possible. Move your jaw to the right and hold it there for about five seconds and then return to the center. Hold it in this neutral position for five seconds and then repeat on the left side. You should try to perform 10 repetitions of each exercise daily.
Functional Jaw Opening
Stand in front of a mirror and close your mouth gently. If you feel your jaw slipping out of joint you can place a hand on each side of your jaw and hold it in position. Open your mouth as if you were preparing to take a bite of food and look in the mirror to notice whether it remains in line with your upper jaw. Slowly close it once more while using your hands to feel whether it is staying in line with your upper jaw. Repeat 10 times.
This exercise is performed by opening your mouth slightly and placing your fingers inside your mouth to provide pressure to open your mouth as far as it will go. Be sure that you keep the muscles of your jaw inactive throughout this exercise, since it is designed to stretch these muscles rather than strengthen them. Hold this stretch for about 10 seconds and repeat as directed by your doctor.
- Dr. Jeffrey Tucker: Diagnosis and Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders
- Oral Motor and Pharyngeal Swallowing Exercises for Adult and Pediatric Populations
- CyberPT.com: Temporomandibular Joint Exercise Prescription for Physical Therapists
- The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: Corrective Jaw Surgery
- Dr. William C. Storoe: Unequal Jaw Growth