Relax your jaw for TMJ pain relief.
Did you know that up to 12% of the US population suffers from TMJ?
While it’s easy to feel alone in your jaw pain, you’re not the only one who’s experiencing it. Because so many people experience pain as a result of TMJ, we also have a pretty good idea of what causes it. While there are many reasons that TMJ pain may happen, stress is one of the leading causes of flare-ups.
That’s why we’ve researched relaxation techniques for pain relief through stress reduction. Read on for some ideas on how to relax your jaw, your body, and your mind.
1. Take a deep breath.
One of the easiest and most effective ways that you can reduce stress is to take a deep breath. Not only does this give you a moment to clear your mind, but it opens up airways to the brain that otherwise remain closed. The oxygen is good for your overall brain health and energizes you.
Take a deep breath through your mouth. Hold it for five seconds and then exhale slowly. Repeat these steps until you feel that your mind and body are both relaxed. Generally, this will happen after about a minute. If you want to go all-out, there are some simple breathing exercises that you can do as well. By embracing this relaxation technique, you will help reduce your stress levels, which decreases the risk of a TMJ pain flare-up.
2. Develop morning and night routines.
It’s important that you develop morning and night routines. Routines trigger muscle memory, which helps ensure that you’re never rushed or forget to do anything important. After waking up, you’ll want to eat a nice breakfast, brush your teeth, take care of other personal hygiene matters, and get dressed. Before bed, you’ll want to implement a wind-down routine, which should include switching off screens and creating a calming atmosphere.
Creating predictable situations allows your mind to adjust to what’s going to happen. It eliminates the stress and shock of surprises that having no routine causes you to experience. It also ensures that you get the things that you need to do out of the way so that you can make time for the things you love.
3. Think about your jaw.
While relaxing your entire body helps to eliminate stress in all areas, you may want to do something to specifically help your jaw. The best thing that you can do in this area is to practice mindfulness. Set an alarm to remind yourself to relax your jaw, or simply do so whenever you remember. Bring your attention back to your jaw and repeat the mantra “lips together, teeth apart” to yourself. If you do this often enough, it will become a habit.
4. Perform TMJ exercises to help relaxation.
In addition to the “lips together, teeth apart” mantra, there are specific jaw relaxation exercises that you can do to relieve stress. Not only will these exercises make you feel more relaxed holistically, but they specifically work on the muscles that TMJ pain targets. By doing these simple exercises once or twice a day, you will strengthen your jaw muscles, increase overall mobility, and relax and heal painful muscles.
Some of the best exercises include:
- Resisted mouth openings, where you put a finger beneath your chin and open your mouth.
- Resisted mouth closings, in which you put a finger between your lower lip and chin and close your mouth.
- Forward and side-to-side jaw movement.
- Touching your tongue to the back of your top front teeth.
- Goldfish exercises with both partial and full-mouth openings.
Make sure to schedule them into your routine!
5. Take a warm bath.
Taking a warm bath helps relax the muscles throughout your whole body, which ensures that your mouth and jaw muscles also loosen. Not only does the steam clear the airways in your nose and mouth, but the heat of the water loosens up your muscles and makes sure that you get sound rest.
To make your bath even more relaxing, consider adding natural bath oils or some bath salts. This will provide you with a bit of aromatherapy, which will relax every one of your senses. While you lay there and relax with your eyes closed (or fixed on a good book), this is also the perfect opportunity to do some TMJ jaw exercises.
6. Read a good book.
What better way to relax than to read a good book? Reading is a great way to wind down and relax your mind at the end of a long day. Additionally, since you won’t be looking at a bright screen while you read, you’ll be getting away from the stress of constantly being looped in for a while.
Make reading one chapter a night a part of your nightly routine. Try doing this before bed—it’s a surefire way to wind down and lose your cares in a good story.
8. Drink herbal teas for relaxation.
Tea is not only delicious, but it also serves as a natural way to relax your muscles. Herbal teas like chamomile are especially good for this. Lavender teas are also wonderful because they promote sound sleep and relieve muscle strain.
Additionally, the heat of your hot tea serves to relax the muscles in your mouth and jaw, much like a hot bath does. Experiment with various herbal teas until you find something that you really like.
9. Meditate and practice mindfulness.
Clearing your mind is an essential first step to relaxing your body. Before going to sleep, take a few minutes to just close your eyes and think about nothing but relaxation. Feel your muscles loosen up and push all the tension out of your body. This is a great way to wind down and make yourself feel good before bed.
10. Sleep soundly and consistently.
Sleeping at consistent times is essential to your well-being. It promotes sound sleep by teaching your brain when it’s time to rest and influencing your circadian rhythm to help you relax at a specific time of day.
Making sure that you sleep consistently and soundly will ensure that you wake up well-rested and de-stressed the next morning. It will also decrease your chances of bruxism (teeth-grinding), which is a big factor in many people’s TMJ pain.
Beyond Relaxation Techniques for Pain Treatment
While relaxation techniques for pain are a great way to help treat your TMJ, it’s also a good idea to talk to a dentist. Your dentist can provide you with insight that a single blog post can’t.
Schedule an appointment to talk with our oral health professionals. We’re more than happy to talk about ways to soothe TMJ pain and look into other forms of treatment beyond relaxation. We’re here to help keep your gorgeous smile shining brightly!