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How To Manage Jaw Joint Disorder   
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Management of this condition focuses on
• Relief of pain
• Restoring normal functional movement of the jaw
• The provision of education on posture, pain, oral habits that may influence the jaw joint
• Specific exercises for the weak muscles
• Specific exercises to maintain stability of the joint
• Gentle range of motion exercises for improving movement
• Postural retraining to restore balance between the jaw and neck positions

Correct your posture

The pain you experience in your jaw may also be related to your neck and how you usually hold your head.
If you normally have your head forwards throughout the whole day, it can cause an increase in the tension in the muscles of your face and neck and eventually this negatively affects the manner in which the jaw moves and its resting position.

When you maintain a good posture your jaw is also placed back into its correct position. You would need to practice this new posture throughout the day, it may feel strange when you begin but eventually the position would feel normal.

Whenever you maintain the appropriate posture, the muscles of your neck and face are relaxed, hence decreasing constant tension and pain in those areas. One of the simple exercises that you can perform daily is the head slide exercise.

Head slide exercise
This encourages the shifting of the bad posture that you’ve adopted over the years to a correct one. This is a stretching exercise that slowly releases the tightness in the jaw muscles which holds the head in the inappropriate forward position. The exercises also enable you to relax your jaw and facial muscles.

• Stand against a wall and ensure that the back of both heels touches the wall as well as the back of your head. Gently bring your chin down as if to touch your chest, while maintaining your head against the wall. Hold this position for 20 seconds and return to the original position. You should repeat this at least 20 times each day. You also need to make a conscious effort to maintain this head position during your daily activities- walking, standing, sitting etc.

Relaxation Exercises
Individuals with jaw pain are required to learn to relax their jaw muscles at all times and desist from clinching their teeth in times of stress because this makes the pain worse. It’s vital to relax the jaw muscles regularly throughout the day by adhering to the following steps.

• Gently raise your tongue up to touch the roof of your mouth and maintain hold for about 10 -20 seconds before allowing it to fall down again. Repeat as often as you can tolerate

• Open up your jaw slightly without opening your mouth. Keep your upper and lower teeth apart and prevent them from touching. Hold the position for about 10 seconds and allow your upper and lower teeth to touch again. Repeat throughout the day.

Strengthening exercises
These exercises strengthen the muscles that are responsible for pulling the jaw backwards while restricting the muscles which move the jaw forwards and from side to side. The exercise also relaxes the muscles which closes the mouth.

• You may sit, stand or lie down for this exercise. With your mouth closed and you teeth touching, lift your tongue and run the tip of your tongue backwards towards your throat, as far as you can tolerate. You also need to ensure that your tongue maintain the touch on the roof of your mouth.

Gently open your mouth to the point where you can tolerate or just as your tongue is unable to touch the roof of your mouth. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and close your mouth. You need to repeat this exercise at least 10 times each day.

Ensure that your jaw does not move from side to side but only downwards. If you feel a slight tension on the back of your neck and beneath your chin, then you are performing the exercise correctly. However, if you hear clicks or any kind of noise during the exercise, then you are performing it incorrectly.
Source: Mohammed Ali ([email protected])

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