Around 12 percent of people in the United States experience TMJ disorders at any one time. Women are affected more often than men, with 9 women to every 1 man experiencing severe pain and restricted jaw movement
From a tight jaw to pain chewing and yawning, it can hinder day-to-day activities. For some people, it goes away on its own. For others, the recurring pain of TMJ becomes a chronic condition.
The good news is that TMJ can usually be managed with home remedies – and if they don’t work, there are other treatment options, too. These tips will teach you how to manage TMJ so that you can free yourself from chronic jaw pain.
Home Remedies to Manage TMJ Pain
The first steps to try when you experience TMJ pain is a series of home remedies.
Place ice packs on the sore jaw area for fifteen minutes, then remove for another fifteen before you reapply the pack. The ice will reduce any swelling in your jaw, helping to minimize the pain you feel.
Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen reduce inflammation in the jaw. Take the recommended amount for a few days to minimize your pain. If your jaw pain continues for more than a few days, speak to your dentist. Taking painkillers long-term risks side effects, such as stomach ulcers, or increased tolerance to the drug. Your doctor may then give you prescription painkillers as an alternative.
Give your jaw a break for a few days by avoiding hard and crunchy foods. Restrict movement of the jaw: stick to soft or liquid foods such as soup or mashed potato so that you don’t have to chew.
Massage and Stretches
Your doctor or a physiotherapist can show you how to safely massage your jaw to reduce pain. They will also show you stretches that will help strengthen the muscles in your jaw to prevent ‘popping out’ of the hinge joint, which is a common cause of TMJ.
Many people experience TMJ because they grind their teeth due to stress. They may do this during the day or while they’re asleep, and usually aren’t aware of their habit. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and mindfulness exercises can help to reduce stress. This, in turn, reduces the need to grind your jaw.
What to do When TMJ Home Remedies Don’t Work
When your TMJ pain just won’t go away, it’s time to speak to a specialist about these options.
A bite guard (TMJ splint or orthotic) fitted by a specialist can help alleviate the adverse effect of teeth grinding and clenching. It looks a bit like a mouth guard but there are different TMJ splints that can be be made for different TMJ conditions.
Botox and Steroid Injections
Botox injections can be used to relax the muscles of the jaw. Relieving the muscle tension reduces TMJ pain and also the risk of the jaw ‘popping’ out of place.
Steroid injections are also commonly used to reduce TMJ pain. Corticosteroids injected into the painful area provide months of pain relief and reduce inflammation.
Surgery on the Jaw
When TMJ becomes a serious problem, surgery may be required.
Arthroscopy is when a tiny incision is made in the jaw and a camera inserted to provide a clear view of the inside of the joint. The surgeon may remove tissue or adjust the placement of the joint.
Open jaw surgery is rare, and usually only carried out for total joint replacement or if you have an underlying condition such as tumors in the area.
Relieve Your TMJ Pain with Our Orofacial Pain Expert Provider
If you’ve followed the home remedy tips above and you’re still struggling to know how to fix TMJ pain, it’s time to speak to an expert.
The pain felt by TMJ sufferers can be agonizing and keep you from living your life to the fullest. Since every TMJ disorder patient has different needs, it is important for Dr Virk to evaluate you to determine which unique treatment plan can maximize results for you. If you think you may have TMJ disorder, or if you just have questions, please feel free to contact us to make an appointment!
Note: The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.