Skip to content

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.

Useful Articles & Websites

American Dental Association Patient Smart Patient Education Center. TMD -Temporomandibular Disorders

Ashford & St Peter’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

Brighton & Sussex University NHS Trust. Jaw joint problems

British Association of Oral Surgeons. Temporomandibular (Jaw) Joint Problems

Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Facial Massage

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. FAQ – Jaw Joint Problems

Complementary Healthcare Clinic. Jaw Stabilisation Exercises

DurhamDDS. TMJ & Associated Musculature Physical Therapy

East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Jaw joint problems

East & North Hertfordshire NHS Trust. Managing Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Problems

East Chesire NHS Trust. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction

East Sussex Healthcare NHS trust. Exercises to prevent pain and clicking of the jaw joint

Heatherwood & Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Jaw Joint Exercises

KaiserPermanente. Physical Therapy Department Exercise Program for Pain & Dysfunction in the Head, Neck & Temporomandibular Joint

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Temporomandibular Joint Pain Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJPDS)

Mid Cheshire & Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trusts. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain Dysfunction

Orthopaedic Manipulative Physiotherapy Group. Temporomandibular Disorders. Patient Info Sheet

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. Specialist Surgery. TMJ Exercises. Information for patients Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Queen Margaret Hospital, Fife. Exercises to Improve the Function of the Temporomandibular Joint

Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Jaw joint problems

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. Physiotherapy Management of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain

Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Physiotherapy Management of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain

Russells Hall Hospital. The Troublesome Jaw Joint

Temporo-Mandibular Joint Complex Exercise Suggestions

The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction & Myofacial Pain

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Temporomandibular Disorder – TMD

The Patient Education Institute. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

The Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust. Temporomandibular Joint Exercises

University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust. A Relaxation Regime for Jaw & Facial Pain

University Hospitals of Leicester Oral & Maxillofacial Surgical Services. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction Syndrome

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. Exercises to Improve the Function of the Jaw Joints & Reduce Pain

University of Bristol. Temporo-Mandibular Joint Exercises

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust. St Richard’s Hospital. Jaw Joint Disorders

J Dent Res. 2007. Randomized Effectiveness Study of 4 Therapeutic Strategies for TMJ Closed Lock

Dent Press J Orthod 2013. Therapeutic exercises for the control of temporomandibular disorders

J Man Manip Ther 2014. Temporomandibular Disorders. Part 2. Conservative Management

Phys Ther 2016. Effectiveness of Manual Therapy & Therapeutic Exercise for Temporomandibular Disorders – Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis