TMJ Exercises for Jaw Popping

Temporomandibular joint disorder involves pain and stiffness in the joint where the jawbone meets the skull. One of the common symptoms is a popping or clicking sensation when opening or closing the jaw.

TMJ pain can be fixed with the proper exercises.
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In some cases, TMJ disorder is caused by injury, but stress and jaw abnormalities and poor posture can contribute to the condition. Some medical professionals may recommend surgery and orthodontics to correct the problem; however, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends gentle stretching and TMJ exercises for jaw popping.

Read more: How to Strengthen Your Jaw Muscles

1. Check Your Postural Alignment

Poor posture, such as holding your head forward or to the side can contribute to TMJ disorder, according to a January 2018 article published by Journal of Physical Therapy Science. TMJ exercises to stop clicking pull the head back to a neutral position and draw the shoulders into their natural position to help relieve the stiffness and other TMJ symptoms.

  1. Stand with your back and shoulder blades against the wall.
  2. Bring your shoulder blades together to draw your shoulders back and down.
  3. Tuck your chin and shift your head until the back of your head touches the wall.
  4. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds and release.
  5. Repeat five times.

2. Tongue Exercise

Target the tongue in your TMJ exercises to stop clicking in your jaw. Perform these exercises in front of a mirror, as recommended by Cork University Dental School & Hospital.

  1. Gently rest your back teeth together.
  2. Rest the tip of your tongue behind your front teeth.
  3. Curl your tongue along the roof of your mouth, as far backward as possible.
  4. Keeping your tongue in this position, slowly open your mouth.
  5. Hold this position for five seconds; then relax for five seconds.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

3. Neck Stretches

Sit up tall with your spine straight before performing neck stretches. Relax your jaw and look straight ahead.

  1. Sit comfortably with your shoulders and head in a neutral position.
  2. Tilt your head forward and gently press your hand against the back of your head to increase the stretch.
  3. Hold for up to 30 seconds and return to the neutral position.
  4. Look up and extend your chin toward the ceiling, while keeping your head from falling backward.
  5. Hold for up to 30 seconds and release.
  6. Tilt your head to the right and gently press against the left side to increase the stretch.
  7. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat the same motion on the right.
  8. Circle your head clockwise four times, keeping your head from falling back past your shoulders; then rotate counterclockwise.

Read more: Exercises to Relax Jaw Muscles

4. Jaw Stretches

Include jaw stretches to release tight jaw muscles and help retrain the jaw to its natural position.

  1. Sit comfortably and open your mouth as wide as is comfortable.
  2. Gently press your hand or fist against the front of your jaw to increase the stretch.
  3. Hold for up to 30 seconds. If you feel pain, stop.
  4. Slide your jaw to the left and gently press against the right side of your jaw with your hand or fist.
  5. Hold for up to 30 seconds. If you feel pain, stop.
  6. Slide your jaw to the left, press and hold for 30 seconds and release.
  7. Repeat each exercise four times.
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