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Jaw Exercises

Jaw Exercises for Dysphagia Therapy


Updated February 21, 2009

Man practicing a jaw stretch
Paul Burns/Getty Images
Dysphagia therapy involves a variety of exercises which range from jaw and lip, to tongue and actual swallowing exercises. The jaw is most important during chewing, when it helps us break food down into smaller pieces which are combined into a single food bolus.

Strokes and other insults to the brain and the swallowing apparatus may affect the movement of the jaw, thus your ability to swallow.

Here you'll find three simple exercises which can help your regain your jaw strength and return a great deal of your swallowing ability.

  • Sideway Jaw Stretch
    This exercise helps to recreate some of the actual movements performed during chewing, but just a little more exaggerated. Simply move your jaw from one side to the other going as far sideways as you can. You should not feel pain from this exercise, but you should be able to feel stretching of the muscle. Challenge yourself and push a little bit farther each day. But always stop if you begin to feel pain, or if you develop a jaw cramp. Repeat 5 to 10 times in each session.
  • Open Jaw Stretch
    The point of this exercise is to stretch the jaw muscles. Make believe that you are about to bite on a gigantic apple and open your mouth as wide as you can. Don't open it so wide that you develop a cramp, but make sure that as you open it you feel that the muscles of the jaw are actually being stretched. Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times keeping your mouth open for 5 to 10 seconds each time.
  • Jaw Circles
    With your jaw, draw circles in the air. In other words, move your jaw in a circular motion trying make the largest circle possible. Again, try to stretch the muscles as you do this. Perform this exercise 5 to 10 times.

    All on dysphagia after stroke

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