Pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is more than just common. It’s second only to lower back pain in terms of the most frequent musculoskeletal pain people experience. From occasional aches and soreness to severe cases that make chewing painful, people experience a wide range of symptoms from TMJ disorders. If you’ve recently developed pain in the jaw joint, read on for ways to relieve pain at home and treatments dentists provide to alleviate TMJ pain.
At-Home Treatments for TMJ Pain
If you notice pain in the jaw joint that may feel achy, swollen, or tender, at-home remedies might help until you can see your dentist. At the very least, none of these treatments will make anything worse. At soon as possible, you should see your dentist to find out what is causing the pain.
Icing the Jaw Joint
An ice pack applied to the side of the jaw can help with swelling. Ice can be soothing if inflammation brought on by arthritis is responsible for the pain.
As long as you don’t take medication that is contraindicated, Advil or generic ibuprofen can also help with inflammation in the joint.
Switching to a soft food diet for a few days may also help if you have inflammation from arthritis or pain due to teeth grinding. Letting your jaw rest a bit may provide some pain relief.
Studies have linked teeth grinding with stress. So if you’ve recently experienced or are currently dealing with a stressful situation, you may be grinding your teeth at night. Dentists who treat TMJ often recommend that patients employ some relaxation techniques to help mitigate stress. You may find that reading a book, listening to music, or meditating before bed brings some relief from jaw joint pain.
Treatments Available from Your Dentist for TMJ Pain
It’s best to see your dentist if you experience any of the symptoms of TMJ for more than a few days:
- Clicking sound when opening the mouth
- Difficulty opening your mouth all the way
- Popping sound in the jaw
- Pain in the muscles of the face
- Difficulty chewing
- Grinding sensation in the jaw
During an oral exam, your dentist will determine if you’re grinding your teeth while you sleep. If your teeth show signs of wear and tear, your dentist may recommend one of several treatments.
Splint therapy will involve an oral appliance, such as a custom night guard to wear while sleeping that will prevent you from grinding your teeth.
If you’re grinding your teeth because of a misalignment with your jaw, your dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment using clear invisible aligners, such as ClearCorrect. Clear aligners can correct bite issues such as overbite, underbite, crossbite, and open bite.
Fortunately, nearly all cases of TMJ can be treated non-surgically. In severe cases, such as a displaced disc or dislocated jaw, you may be referred for surgery.