Jaw joint problems

Jaw Joint Problems

Otherwise known as Temporo Mandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)

TMJ dysfunction can be caused by the obvious- a fall, an accident; or the not so obvious but more common- sleeping in an awkward position. Muscles and ligaments can be pulled out of position and swelling usually occurs within the joint.

Symptoms may include

  • Dull pain near the ear
  • Muscular pain in the cheek
  • Pain on movement of the jaw
  • Clicking and/or clunking on opening or closing
  • Locking of the joint released by wiggling the jaw side to side
  • Inability to close properly / bite feels different

Gentle treatment

The jaw joint is put under most pressure when it is wide open; therefore eat “thin” food so that you don’t need to open wide. (No burgers, apples etc)

Avoid tough chewing; go soft for a couple of weeks

Do not yawn - drop your chin to chest (the yawn you do in meetings)

The disruption to the joint can be likened to a sprained ankle, resulting in swelling and loss of function. However unlike an ankle injury we can’t stop using the jaw to let it heal but we can be aware of what we have done and treat it gently


Anti-inflammatories, such as Ibuprofen, are helpful but usually can only be used short term.

Paracetamol can be used at a dosage of 1000mg 6 hourly


Aim for 6 repeats of each exercise, 6 times a day for 6 weeks, it should take about a minute

Be limited by pain- do not continue with an exercise if it hurts!

Skippy-Place the tip of the tongue on palate behind upper front teeth. Keep teeth slightly apart and make “Skippy” sounds

Opening-Watch yourself in a mirror as you slowly open your mouth while holding the front third of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. The jaw should move straight down and straight back up in a hinge movement. If you have a deviation to one side try to train yourself back to the vertical. Small opening movements are easier to start with

Resistance-Hold the jaw steady with both hands while the teeth are slightly apart. Try opening, closing and sideways movements against the resistance of your hands without moving the jaw. Aim for muscle tension rather than movement

Emu-Move head forward as far as possible in a horizontal plane (like an emu)

Neck-Clasp hands behind the neck, bend the head forwards down towards the chest and return to upright.

Shoulders-Pull the shoulders back and down

If not getting any relief please call us and we will refer you to a Physiotherapist who is experienced in TMJ problems.


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