The temporomandibular joint, commonly called the TMJ, connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the bone on the side of the head (temporal bone). The joint allows the jaw to move from side to side, as well as up and down.
A variety of physical problems such as teeth grinding, injury, infection, or surgery may cause problems with this joint. TMJ disorders can also result from autoimmune diseases, degenerative conditions, or environmental factors. If you suffer from TMJ issues, you may be wondering how you can relieve the pain.
Common TMJ Disorder Symptoms
Common symptoms of TMJ disorders include any or all of the following:
- Pain located in the jaw or back teeth
- Headaches or migraines
- Ear, neck, or backache
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Joint movement restriction
- Tinnitus, or "ringing in the ears."
- A clicking or popping sound when chewing or speaking
What You Can Do to Relieve TMJ Pain
Thankfully, there are several options available today for treating TMJ, also known as TMD (temporomandibular disorder) pain. Some minor lifestyle changes can significantly decrease the painful effects that TMDs have on those suffering mild-to-moderate symptoms. These include the following:
- Avoid gum and other chewy foods to reduce jaw movements
- Don't put any unnecessary pressure on the jaw
- Massage affected muscles in the painful areas
- Wear a mouthguard at night to prevent teeth grinding.
- Perform gentle at-home exercises for pain relief (see below)
Thankfully, most cases of TMD are mild and manageable, but in some patients, it can be severe and long-term, requiring more than just home treatment. If these steps don't help relieve TMJ-related pain, contact your dentist or doctor as soon as possible. In more severe cases, steroid injections, physical therapy, or surgery might be necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions about TMJ
Are there home remedies for TMD?
While there are definitely treatments that TMD patients can try at home to adequately address this condition and ensure it doesn't cause more severe and permanent health issues, professional treatment is necessary. While many home remedies can help manage the symptoms of TMD, they shouldn't be relied upon to treat it.
What exercises can help relieve TMD pain?
Many exercises may help relieve your jaw pain. Here are a few examples of the most common TMD exercises to help with pain:
- Apply downward pressure on your lower teeth using one hand while simultaneously exerting upward pressure with your jaw.
- Position your thumb beneath your chin and gently press on the chin bone. Gradually open your mouth, resisting the pressure from your thumb.
- Cross your arms over your chest, placing a hand on each shoulder. Tilt your head backward and then to the right, followed by switching to the opposite side.
- Rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth and slowly open your jaw without displacing your tongue.
Stuart Prosthetic Dentistry: Your Partners in TMJ Treatment
The professionals at Stuart Prosthetic Dentistry know how TMJ can impact every area of your life. If you are ready to explore your pain relief and treatment options, our experienced professionals are here for you. You can find more information on our website, or call 772.286.1606 today to schedule an appointment.