Special Relaxation Techniques

There is a whole range of special relaxation exercises for the chewing apparatus that produce fast relief for many patients. The painful muscle is usually shortened, hardened and has bad circulation, so stretching exercises are often a good idea. The simplest exercise is to open the jaw as wide as possible, without causing any pain, and then to hold this position for 10 seconds and to repeat the exercise six times (Hanson’s 6×6 exercise). This can be done six times a day. With practice, the jaw can gradually be opened wider and wider as the symptoms begin to subside.

The other thing which is a good idea is to pay attention during the day to what the rows of teeth are doing: when people are relaxed the upper and lower teeth do not generally make contact during the day, i.e. they are just a couple of millimetres apart. We call this the physiological rest position. The chewing muscles are also relaxed in this position. But during the day many people have a tendency to always press their teeth together, so that the chewing muscles are constantly active. This habit alone can, in the long term, lead to pain in the chewing muscles. This is why being aware (of what the teeth are doing) and learning how to achieve the physiological rest position and maintaining it can be very helpful for many CMD patients. To help with this, little glue dots can be stuck to the teeth at regular intervals to constantly remind the patient to maintain the physiological rest position.