Relieving TMJ Pain: A Guide for TMJ Massages and Exercises

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain is a common ailment that affects millions of people worldwide. The TMJ acts as a hinge connecting your jawbone to your skull, allowing you to speak, chew, and yawn. However, the TMJ muscles can become tense due to things like stress, teeth grinding, tooth misalignment, or injury. Over time, this tension sometimes leads to discomfort, pain, and limited jaw movement. One effective way to alleviate TMJ pain is through massage therapy. In this guide, we’ll look at the art of massaging TMJ muscles to provide relief and promote relaxation.

Understanding TMJ Pain

Before we dive into massaging techniques, we need to first understand the sources of TMJ pain. Pain in the TMJ region can manifest as jaw discomfort, headaches, clicking sounds, and difficulty in opening or closing the mouth. This pain is often the result of muscle tension, inflammation, or misalignment of the jaw joint. Massaging the TMJ muscles can help release tension, improve blood circulation, and enhance the joint’s mobility.

Preparation and Safety

Before attempting any self-massage techniques, we advise that you consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have severe or chronic TMJ pain. Dr. Postol is a TMJ professional and understands the symptoms, causes, and treatment methods for TMJ pain. He can help you with different home care methods for your symptoms. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Postol for treatment options in addition to these massage techniques and exercises that we will go over next.

Call To Schedule a Consultation

Dr. Postol is a dentist of 30+ years and a TMJ therapy expert. He will instruct you on the best technique to deal with your TMJ pain. Call to schedule a consultation today.

These exercises and massage techniques should be performed gently and without causing pain. If you experience increased pain or discomfort during any massage or exercise, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional. These massages and exercises are intended to promote flexibility and relaxation in the jaw muscles, which can help relieve TMJ pain over time when practiced consistently.

Effective Self-Massage Techniques

Before you get started with these massage techniques, it’s a good idea to wash your hands thoroughly and ensure your nails are trimmed to avoid causing further irritation or discomfort. Let’s get started.

Masseter Massage:

  • Begin by gently placing your two or three fingertips on the top of the masseter muscle (the big jaw muscle just in front of the ear) on both sides of your jaw.
  • Apply gentle pressure and move your fingers on both sides of your jaw down toward your jawline.
  • Do this 5 or 6 times, gradually increasing pressure as needed.
  • Next, repeat these steps but this time start at the bottom of the masseter and work your way up toward your cheekbones while very slowly opening your mouth in the process making sure not to cause yourself any pain.
3D rendering of the anatomy of the head, face, and neck muscles.

Cheek Massage:

  • Place your index and middle fingers on both your cheeks, just above the jawline.
  • Apply light pressure and use small circular motions to massage the muscles.
  • Slowly move your fingers towards your ears, following the jawline.
  • Repeat this process several times.

Intraoral Massage:

  • Wash your hands and put on disposable gloves for hygiene.
  • Gently insert your index or middle finger into your mouth, placing it on the inside of your cheek.
  • Apply light pressure to the area where your jaw muscles feel tense.
  • Use small circular motions to massage the muscles, being cautious not to put too much pressure.
  • Repeat on both sides of your mouth.

Jawline Massage:

  • Place your thumbs under your chin, with your fingers resting on your lower jaw.
  • Apply gentle upward pressure using your thumbs while simultaneously pushing down with your fingers.
  • Maintaining pressure, trace your jawline from your chin to the TMJ joint.
  • This technique can help relieve tension in the muscles underneath the jaw.

TMJ Mobilization:

  • Place your fingers on the TMJ joint itself, which is located just in front of your ear.
  • Gently open and close your mouth, using your fingers to provide a slight resistance.
  • This technique helps improve the joint’s mobility and alleviate tension.

Exercises for TMJ Pain

In addition to massage techniques, here are some gentle exercises to consider:

Jaw Relaxation:

  • Sit or stand in a comfortable position.
  • Gently open your mouth wide enough to feel a stretch but not to the point of pain.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly close your mouth.
  • Repeat this movement 5-10 times.

Resisted Mouth Opening:

  • Place your thumb under your chin and gently push upward.
  • Simultaneously, try to open your mouth against the resistance of your thumb.
  • Hold the open position for a few seconds, then release.
  • Repeat this exercise 5-8 times.

Chin Tucks:

  • Stand or sit with your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
  • Gently tuck your chin in towards your chest, creating a double chin.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds before releasing.
  • Repeat the movement 5-8 times.

Tongue to Roof of Mouth:

  • Rest the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth.
  • Gently press your tongue upward while maintaining light pressure.
  • Hold for a few seconds and then relax.
  • Repeat this exercise 5-10 times.

Side-to-Side Jaw Movement:

  • Keep your mouth closed and slowly move your jaw from side to side.
  • Perform this movement in a controlled manner, avoiding any sudden or jerky motions.
  • Repeat the side-to-side movement 5-8 times.

Finger Resistance Exercise:

  • Place your index finger against your chin.
  • Attempt to open your mouth against the resistance provided by your finger.
  • Apply gentle pressure and hold for a few seconds before releasing.
  • Repeat on both sides of your jaw.

Massage and Heat/Cold Therapy:

  • Gently massage the jaw muscles using your fingertips, applying light pressure in circular motions.
  • Consider using a warm or cold compress on the affected area for 10-15 minutes to help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

Relaxation Techniques:

  • Engage in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to reduce overall stress, which can contribute to TMJ pain.


Regularly practicing these self-massage and exercise techniques can help reduce TMJ pain, increase jaw mobility, and promote relaxation in the surrounding muscles. However, if your TMJ pain is persistent, severe, or worsening, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional, such as a dentist.

Every individual’s pain and body are unique, so it’s important to listen to your body’s response and adjust the pressure and duration of massage and the frequency and duration of exercises accordingly. By incorporating these techniques into your self-care routine, you can take significant steps toward finding relief from TMJ discomfort and improving your overall quality of life.

Call to Schedule a Consultation

Dr. Postol is a dentist of 30+ years and a TMJ therapy expert. To learn how to relieve your TMJ pain, call to schedule a consultation today.