Buccinator Muscle Exercises

Man playing trumpet

The buccinator muscle is the main muscle in your cheek. The duct of your salivary gland shoots through this muscle to reach the cavity of your mouth. When you blow, whistle, smile or suck on something, you use your cheek muscles. When you chew, these muscles keep your cheeks pressed to your teeth. Trumpeters pump their buccinator muscles so often and forcibly, their cheeks puff out like small balloons. Draw on exercises used by musicians and yoga practitioners to tone your cheek muscles.

Mimic Players of Wind Instruments

Musicians who play wind instruments use circular breathing, a technique in which they simultaneously take in air into their mouths while playing a phrase. To master circular breathing, you have to develop strong cheek and throat muscles to push air out of your mouth in a controlled way. Exercise your cheek muscles by using water. Stand by a sink and fill your mouth with water, allowing your cheeks to puff out. Pucker your lips to form a small hole with your mouth. Push the water out of the hole in a continuous stream. Once you have done this exercise several times, use your fingers to gently press your cheeks and push the water out of your mouth. Note the strength of the stream with the added pressure. Remove your fingers and try the exercise again. Focus on contracting your cheek muscles to achieve the same strong flow.

Do Yoga for the Face

A simple yoga pose can help to condition your cheek muscles and keep premature wrinkles at bay. Because the Lion pose involves only your face, you can do it seated or standing. Inhale deeply and slowly open your mouth wide as if someone were trying to pin your cheeks to your ears. Visualize how a lion roars. Tuck your chin, stick out your tongue and fix your gaze between your eyebrows. Hold your face in this position for about 30 seconds, breathing through the mouth.

Take Cues from Rehabilitation

In 2002, a Brazilian group tested facial exercises at an international AIDS conference as a way to combat the effects of facial lipoatrophy, or loss of fat in the face. In this pilot project, half a dozen men with the condition were taught to use the facial exercises for 30 minutes three times per day, according to an article in “HIV Plus.” The exercises emphasized cheek muscles, or the muscles used to smile and chew. One man with advanced lipoatrophy and two moderate cases improved dramatically. Attempt one of the pilot project’s cheek exercises in which you form an “O” with your mouth. While pressing your upper lips against your teeth and holding the O shape, smile with the corners of your mouth. Smile and release 30 to 40 times. Take a picture of your face on a monthly basis to monitor the development of your cheek muscles.

Exaggerate Your Smile

A mere smile can firm your buccinator muscles, lift your cheeks and present a more youthful face. Practice exaggerating your smile to strengthen your cheek muscles. Open your mouth and smile as widely as possible. Imagine you’re the Cheshire Cat from “Alice in Wonderland.” Hold your smile for a count of 10 and then relax for a few seconds. Repeat the exaggerated smile 10 times. You can perform this simple and effective exercise while driving to work or watching