Remedial Jaw Exercises
If the jaw joints are particularly tender, these exercises can be assisted by giving preliminary warmth. Place a protected hot water bottle first on one joint, then the other, for 5 minutes on each side before commencing the exercise.
Reflex Opening Exercises
This exercise is designed to produce a reflex relaxation of the jaw muscles so temporarily decreasing the load transmitted to the jaw joint.
Place the hand under the point of the chin and open the mouth until the teeth are just apart.
Maintain firm opening pressure against hand resistance and hold the position for a period of 30 – 40 seconds or until the jaw opening muscles feel tired. When this point is reached, remove the hand from under the chin and swallow quickly in order to relax the jaw.
Immediately following this, place a finger of each hand just in front of the ear to support the jaw joint and allow the jaw to open smoothly and widely, avoiding any swing to the right or left. Remove fingers from each side and close the mouth to complete the exercise.
This manoeuvre should be repeated 5 – 6 times at a sitting and the series repeated two or three times a day, depending on the severity of the symptoms. It is useful to carry out the exercise at periods when the jaw is particularly painful, for example, after meals.
Lateral Opening Exercise
This exercise is designed to increase mobility of the joints where jaw opening is restricted. It is only to be used when there is significant limitation of normal opening.
Support first of all the left jaw joint with the two fingers of the left hand placed just in front of the left ear and place the right hand against the side of the right jaw. Move the point of the jaw towards the right side against the resistance of the right hand, maintaining support with the fingers of the left hand over the left jaw joint. When maximum movement to the side has been achieved, ease the jaw slowly back into the central position. The exercise should be repeated on the opposite side, reversing the above movements.
These exercises are only prescribed for painful jaw joint dysfunction. This is not a disease. It is caused by uncoordinated movement and temporary overload with associated muscle spasm and will in most cases get better with simple exercises such as these.