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What is Temporomandibular Dysfunction?

The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is located where the jaw bone, known as the mandible, meets the temporal bone of the skull. It is involved in breathing, chewing, making facial expressions, yawning and talking and is therefore the most used joint in your body. Signs of TMJ dysfunction can include pain and tenderness, jaw clicking and popping or even grinding, inability to fully close the mouth or alternatively, limited mouth opening. There is also an intra-articular disc within the joint capsule which can be a source of pain due to either inflammation or degeneration. Other symptoms linked to TMJ dysfunction can include pain on chewing, headaches, waking up with jaw soreness, tinnitus or ringing ears. During a dental check-up, the dentist may point out excess wearing of the teeth from clenching or grinding.


These 6 exercises are completed 6 times per day. Please discuss with your Physiotherapist if they are appropriate for you.

  1. Breathing control: sitting with good posture, position the tongue at the roof of the mouth with the mouth closed and breath through the nose. x 6 breaths
  2. Jaw depression: place the tongue at the roof of the mouth and open the jaw x 6
  3. Stabilisation exercises: maintain the position of the tongue on the roof of the mouth
    • Place the hand under the chin and attempt to depress the jaw as above, provide resistance to restrict this movement. Hold for 2-3 seconds and repeat x6
    • Place the hand either side of the jaw to restrict jaw deviation left and right. Complete on one side x 6 with a hold for 2-3 seconds.
  4. Upper cervical lengthening: interlace the hands behind the back of the upper neck near the hairline. Using the edge of the hands, gently glide up and over as the chin draws towards the chest. This should elicit a stretching sensation. Repeat x 6.
  5. Chin tuck: sitting with good posture, draw the chin down/back as if you are taking the base of the skull backwards. Your head should maintain an upright position without the chin drawing down the chest. Think a horizontal movement back. Hold for 2-3 seconds and repeat x 6.
  6. Scapula setting: sitting with good posture, squeeze the shoulder blades together and hold for a few seconds. Repeat x 6.

Video demonstration: