How to Exercise the Masseter Muscle
The masseter muscle is a broad muscle that envelops the jaw joint and is responsible for moving the mouth. This muscle creates the force necessary to chew through food and speak. When the masseter muscle is dysfunctional, it can lead to temporomandibular disorder of the jaw (TMJ). TMJ can cause headaches, jaw pain and pressure and difficulty eating and moving your jaw. Practicing masseter exercise may help to ease the pain of TMJ or strengthen your jaw to reduce the likelihood of developing TMJ.
Forced Closing Exercise
Open your mouth.
Place two fingers on the top of your bottom row of teeth.
Use resistance to press down on your bottom teeth as you simultaneously try to close your mouth. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Practice this exercise three times.
Forced Opening Exercise
Place your palm on the bottom of your chin.
Use resistance to press into the chin.
Try to open your mouth against the resistance of the palm.
Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, relax and repeat two more times.
Place two fingers on your jaw joints right in front of the ear lobes.
Apply a steady and equal pressure on both sides of the jaw.
Open your mouth as wide as you can.
Stick out your tongue as far as you can.
Hold for 10 seconds, relax and repeat two more times.
If you feel soreness in your masseter muscle, try eating soft foods and massaging your jaw joints.
If you experience pain during any masseter exercise, speak to your dentist. It may be an indication of a more serious condition.
Nicole Carlin is a registered yoga teacher. Her writing has been published in yoga and dance teacher training manuals for POP Fizz Academy. Carlin received a Masters of Arts in gender studies from Birkbeck University in London and a Bachelors of Arts in psychology from Temple University, Philadelphia.