We have already established how posture affects one’s TMJ and how a bad posture can cause TMJ disorder. It is important for one to practice and maintain the correct and good posture all the time, be it when standing or sitting. The National Institute of Health says, “Less is often best in treating TMJ Disorders”. Explore safe, conservative, reversible and cost-effective options before making permanent changes to your bite. An experienced physical therapist knows that trying to treat head, neck and jaw problems without addressing posture is like letting one drive a car without keys. A bad posture throws everything off alignment and this impacts your jaw, neck and head. For example, patients with TMJ disorders don’t realize that they have loose joints, bad feet arches, hyperextend their knees or slouch. This is why Dr. Reese, an Indianapolis holistic dentist, coordinates treatment of TMJ disorders with physical therapists and chiropractors.
Exercise and Posture Correction
TMJ recovery is highly dependent on exercise and posture correction. The correct posture must be restored in the jaw, skull, neck and upper back. Even tongue positions and swallowing patterns must be looked at and corrected.
TMJ RECOVERY EXERCISES
These exercises come in stages and should be approved by your dentist or therapist. They can modify these to fit your situation and need. Do these exercises gently. If doing any of these exercises hurt, stop doing it and report to your dentist.
Stage One Exercises
*usually done every 1-2 hours all day
1. Nodding. Have you seen how soldiers bring up their height whenever their commander shouts “Attention!”? Do this pose, making yourself an inch taller, keeping your head level, back and up. Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth and your teeth not touching. Keep your head tall as you nod your head up and down rhythmically and gently ten times, (as in nodding "yes") moving your head but not your neck.
2. Re-education of Swallowing. We swallow every 30-60 seconds. The correct way to swallow: Your tongue goes flat to the roof of the mouth, teeth slightly apart. Practice swallowing this way before and after exercise.
3. Tongue-On-Roof. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, at the back of your teeth. Hold this position as you open and close your jaw ten times.
4. Upper Body Relaxation. Clench your fists and shrug your shoulders as you inhale for three seconds (do not clench your teeth). Then relax your shoulders and hands completely as you exhale for five seconds. Do this twice.
Stage Two Exercises
*usually done three times a day
1. Resisted Jaw Opening. Same as tongue-on-roof only with applied resistance (your hand) under your chin.
2. Neck Stretch. Place one hand on top of the opposite shoulder. Hold that shoulder down. Tip your head away from that shoulder gently. Keep your face facing forward as you stretch 5 seconds gently. Repeat for the other side.
3. Neck Stability. Place one hand on the side of your head. Push your head and hand firmly for 3 seconds without moving your head. Relax. Repeat this three times – do it from front to back.
4. Neck Rotation. Turn your head to the side, hold for three seconds. Relax. Repeat on other side. Do this 3 times each per side.
5. Standing Back-Ends. Place one hand on top of the opposite shoulder. Hold that shoulder down. Tip your head away from that shoulder gently. Keep your face facing forward as you stretch 5 seconds, gently! Repeat for the other side.
Stage Three Exercises
*usually done three times a day
1. Jaw Stability. Place one hand on top of the opposite shoulder. Hold that shoulder down. Tip your head away from that shoulder gently. Keep your face facing forward as you stretch 5 seconds, gently! Repeat for the other side.
2. Jaw Stetching. Open your jaw as far as you will go. Place your thumb under your chin and push up – working your jaw to stay open against the push. Push for 3 seconds without letting your jaw close. Relax. Place a finger on your lower teeth and pull down gently, hold for 3 seconds. Relax and repeat process three times.
3. Back Strengthening Exercises. These are important so that your muscles will hold up your back to maintain straight and correct posture.
Don’t worry, this is not as complicated as it reads – these exercises will only take a few minutes each set everyday. You can watch a video on how it is usually done.
Consult with a TMJ Specialist
Do not underestimate the impact on TMJ disorder on your health. It can literally bring you pain, from head to foot. Dr. Reese offers a lot of TMJ treatment options, all of which are integrated to your holistic health. If you are suffering from head, neck, or jaw pain, please call Dr. Reese’s office at 317-882-0228 and ask for a TMJ consultation. We are located just north of Greenwood, Indiana on US 31 in Indianapolis.