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  • Writer's pictureErienne Blanchard

TMJ Exercises...What is a Guppy?

My jaw has been really hurting. I have an appointment with my dentist. I don't know what to do to make my pain reduce or what I should be doing to help my pain stop. Look for a craniofacial physical therapist as well to make an appointment in order to address her joint, muscles, and pain in conjunction with your dentist.

In the mean time, let's get you started with something that is safe to do and should help with your pain. A Guppy. Yes, that is the name of the exercise. I didn't create it so I don't get to name it. When you do the exercise, you look like a fish out of water, hence the name.

A Guppy is performed by putting your tongue on the roof of the mouth (fill the whole cavity so that your tongue touches the sides of the teeth and is just behind the upper front teeth). Holding your tongue up (all of your tongue), open your mouth. You should feel limited to about half of your range. You continue to perform this exercise 10x. The best frequency is 10x every hour in order to reduce tension and pain.

The Guppy is an oral stabilization and coordination exercise that does so many wonderful things for your face and joints with very little time and effort.

  1. By moving your mouth within the limited range, you are adding oxygen and nutrients to muscles that are painful from clenching, grinding, or holding tight during your day most likely due to your posture. (Adding oxygen)

  2. By moving your mouth, you are adding nutrients and fluid into the joint that requires movement in order to push out inflammation and bring in healing fluids (a synovial joint like your knee where when it is stiff needs movement).

  3. By keeping your tongue up on the roof of the mouth (the proper postural place for it), you signal to the brain to reduce the muscle activation or tension in the muscles that close the mouth (reducing the effect of clenching).

  4. By moving within the limited range, you are working within the normal movements of the joint for the disc (the thing that may be causing the clicking sound in your joint). By returning to the normal movements, you may help the disc stabilize more and reduce some of the clicking noise.

Side profile of the TMJ and the visualization of the disc between the fossa and condyle

So many positive and wonderful things from such as simple and easily performed exercise. If you are having face or jaw pain, a guppy can be something you can start right now to reduce your pain. Please reach out to your craniofacial therapist and dentist to be sure that there isn't more to your pain.

Call or text 352-727-0472

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