TMJ Dysfunction, what it is and how to treat it Wellbeing made simple

11th july 2022

TMJ Dysfunction, what it is and how to treat it


Before you read another word, relax your jaw.

Are you surprised at how much tension you were holding?

If you’ve ever meditated or done a body scan, then you’re likely familiar with the encouragement to unclench your jaw. Many of us hold tension in our jaws, making us more likely to develop painful “locks” that impact mobility. This leads to TMJ dysfunction, or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint. While you can treat TMJ alone, sometimes, it can become a disorder that requires professional care. More importantly, suffering from TMJ pain can signal the need to focus on yourself and how you’re handling stress in your life. If you are looking for TMJ relief, this article will explore underlying causes of TMJ dysfunction and things you can do to find relief.


What is TMJ?

TMJ stands for ‘temporomandibular joint’, which is actually two joints that connect your lower jaw to the rest of your skull. When someone says they have TMJ, they are describing the pain and discomfort symptomatic of TMJ disorder, also known as temporomandibular dysfunction, or TMD for short. TMD can stem from a number of causes, many of which are not linked to any underlying medical conditions. Instead, TMJ pain can be a signal that our body is holding on to a lot of stress. Finding ways to become more mindful and aware of your body can subsequently ease the pain and common mobility problems of TMJ disorder.

What are the causes of TMJ disorder?

TMJ discomfort, or prolonged TMD, can come from a number of health issues. These are not always call for a trip to the dentist, but it can help if you have been dealing with chronic jaw pain or discomfort.



Stress is not just a psychological experience. It impacts every cell in the body, and there is no physiological system that doesn’t feel the effects of stress.

A little stress can serve as motivation, but ongoing stress leads to chronic discomfort in the mind and body.

Stress-related TMJ can cause from tight muscles and unconscious clenching of the jaw. At the start of this article, you might have realized that you were holding your teeth tightly together. This is a common habit for people with stress TMJ. Learning to find healthy ways to physically release stress can reduce its effects throughout the body.


Teeth Grinding

Some people grind their teeth due to stress whilst others do so unconscious. There are also some who tend to grind teeth in their sleep, which can wear down their jaw and cause TMJ pain.

In fact, many people don’t even realise how much they grind their teeth until they develop TMD symptoms.

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is best treated with the help of a dentist; if you happen to grind in your sleep, they can fit you for a preventative mouth guard.

If you grind your teeth from stress, then some of the exercises we cover below may help you ease off your jaw and find relief.



Some people develop arthritis of the TMJ, which can lead to ongoing discomfort, poor mobility, and pain around the face. Finding ways to manage arthritis can improve symptoms. In addition to collaborating with your GP, it is also helpful to consider holistic treatments.

Jaw exercises, gentle massage, and even energy healing (Reiki) are all potential treatments worth exploring.


How do you get rid of TMJ pain?

The right treatment will differ for everyone based on their underlying cause. However, as most people with TMJ tend to develop it through tension, stress, and clenching, nonmedical therapies can be highly effective.

Below are some of our top suggestions for managing TMJ. These exercises can also compliment TMD treatments you are receiving from a dentist or doctor.


Progressive Muscle Relaxation

PMR is a common stress-reduction strategy that helps you gradually release tension throughout the entire body. Sit in a comfortable position, or lie down. Starting with your eyebrows, gently clench the muscles, hold for several seconds, then release. Pause briefly, then move onto the next muscle in the face.

When you reach the jaw, give particular attention to any existing tension you’re holding. You may notice that you don’t even have to clench the muscle because it’s already right. In this case, focus solely on loosening and releasing the tension that you’re holding.

Follow this process along the entire body until you reach your toes. You can also choose to target specific muscles at any time you’re feeling stressed.


Gentle Jaw Exercises

Practise stretching your jaw regularly to loosen tightness and improve flexibility.

To start, relax the jaw so that the teeth are slightly apart. Then, looking upwards, open the mouth as wide as you can, slowly. Stop at any point of tension or discomfort.

When the mouth is open, turn your jaw to the left as you move your jaw to the left. Do not move the head or neck, only the eyes and jaw. Do the same to the right.


Medical Massage Therapy

Massages aren’t solely for relaxation. There are many types of medical massage therapies that can treat symptoms of TMJ. Consider reflexology, myofascial release, Reiki, or healing touch, to work on gently releasing tension, easing trigger points, and restoring balance throughout the body.

You can get to know our practitioners today, and book a session with one who you feel most comfortable with. We are always here to answer any questions and support you on your wellness journey.