What Can You Do?
Chewing strains the TMJ. If symptoms are bad you might not be able to chew at all. Eating soft foods, not biting into hard foods, and finely chopping foods can all aid when dealing with TMJ disorder.
Ice and Heat
Ice reduces swelling and pain. Heat relaxes muscles and increase blood flow. For severe pain apply ice for 10 to 20 minutes. A hot towel can be used for mild pain.
Items to Avoid
Avoid hard or chewy foods. If your jaw aches reschedule routine dental visits. Put a fist under your jaw and apply gentle pressure before yawning. Refrain from activities that hurt such as, yelling or singing.
Do not cradle the telephone with your shoulder. Support your lower back at work and take frequent breaks to stretch and rest. Use an orthopaedic pillow during sleep to support your head and neck.
Anti-inflammatories and Analgesics
Anti-inflammatories and analgesics are used to treat pain, inflammation, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Anti-inflammatories reduce swelling, heat, redness, and pain. They also aid in restoring function. Analgesics are used to reduce pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories relive inflammation as well as pain.
Myofascial pain is treated with muscle relaxants. Muscle tension is eased with the use of muscle relaxants, which reduces pressure on the TMJ from tight jaw muscles.
Pain and bruxism can be treated with antidepressants. Higher dosages of these medicines are used for depression. They reduce muscle pain and raise the level of serotonin. Serotonin is a body chemical that improves sleep, which can decrease bruxism during the night.
Teeth grinding or clenching referred to as bruxism strains the TMJ. You can monitor yourself during the day and control these habits. However, during the night it becomes very hard to stop. The use of splints can help during sleep. A splint is an appliance that fits in the mouth. A splint can keep the upper and lower teeth apart. This helps protect tooth surfaces from grinding. A splint can also reduce strain on the area.
If non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful or if there is clear joint damage, surgery may be performed. Surgery can involve either arthroscopy or repair of damaged tissue by a direct surgical approach.