Ways to Treat & Prevent TMJ Pain

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a common condition that causes pain in the jaw, face, and ears. It can lead to headaches and problems opening your jaw all the way, and it can be very painful. If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ, there are things you can do at home to treat this pain and prevent further pain from occurring. Here are some tips that may help you with this.

Ice & Heat

The pain from TMJ comes from the inflammation in the temporomandibular joint, which is a very sensitive joint. This can occur from grinding your teeth, improper alignment of the teeth, or stress on the jaw, and one way to relieve the pain is to decrease the inflammation in this joint. Ice and heat can both help with this.

If you place an icepack on your sore jaw muscles, the coldness from the ice can help decrease inflammation. You can do this for 10 to 15 minutes twice a day for relief. In addition, you can also place a heat pack on the sore area for 10 to 15 minutes. Heat does not necessarily reduce inflammation, but it can provide a soothing feeling for sore joints.

Be Selective With What You Eat

The second way to treat and prevent further TMJ pain involves changes to your diet. When you eat hard or crunchy foods, your jaw will have more pressure and tension placed on it. Because of this, you may want to stick with eating foods that are softer. Softer foods will eliminate this extra tension and may help your joint heal. Switching to softer foods is not something you will have to do permanently, but you should consider doing this if you are experiencing pain in your jaw right now.

Perform Exercises

TMJ not only leads to inflammation in this joint, but it can also cause the joint to weaken. If you want to prevent further pain from this condition, you may want to start performing jaw exercises. These are designed to strengthen this joint, and this is a great way to prevent pain in the future. A dentist can help you learn the right types of exercises to use for strengthening this joint, and this may include the following exercises:

  • The first exercise requires placing your thumb under your chin. As you do this, slowly open your mouth keeping pressure on your chin with your jaw. Once open, hold the position for five seconds.
  • Another good exercise involves placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth. As you do this, slowly open your mouth all the way and then close it. Repeat this several times.

Learn Better Jaw Posture

One other thing you can do is to pay close attention to the way you hold your mouth and jaw during the day. If you notice you are clenching your teeth often, you will need to learn to stop. If possible, try to keep your mouth fully relaxed as often as possible. This requires keeping your lips together and having your upper and lower teeth barely touching. If you can do this most of the time, it will slowly ease the pressure off your jaw.

Visit a Dentist

In addition to making these changes, you can also visit a dentist to find out how you can relieve and prevent your TMJ pain. Dentists often suggest using mouth guards while sleeping. A mouth guard can be custom-made for you, and you will find relief from this pain if you sleep with it in your mouth each night. If you have a major case of TMJ, your dentist might suggest having jaw surgery to fix the problem.

If you are interested in learning more about TMJ and ways to prevent pain from it, contact a clinic like Arrowhead Family Dentistry S. M. Bhatt DDS Inc.