The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a part of the body where the jawbone meets the skull. When this joint has pain and TMJ disorder symptoms, it can interfere with one’s daily life and activities, such as chewing and opening one’s mouth. Several things can cause this disorder, from stress to misalignment of the jaw. Symptoms may include pain in the jaw, earaches, clicking or popping sounds with the movement of the joint, and limited opening of the mouth.
The temporomandibular joint system could be a source of headache pain because the muscles attached can refer pain to other areas in the head. If you have TMJD, you need to see a Gaithersburg TMJ specialist for treatment. Below are some home treatments you can use for mild cases of TMJ.
1. Physical Activity
It’s good to be active, but it can also cause people with TMJ disorder problems. Exercise is known to help the joint feel better and decrease pain. Before starting any exercise program, talk with your TMJ dentist about an appropriate program for you. Remember that moderate activity is best; intense workouts may make symptoms worse.
Relaxation exercise is also effective. Using your imagination to visualize a calm, peaceful place can decrease muscle tension and pain for several hours. Try meditating, picturing yourself in the most relaxing spot you know. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and relax each muscle group in turn until you feel completely at ease.
2. Heat and Cold Therapy
People with TMJ disorder often find relief from warm or cold packs used on the jaw. Heat can increase blood flow to the area, soothing inflammation and pain. Try using a heating pad, hot water bottle, bath soak, tea bag compress, or warm washcloth held against your face for 10 minutes several times a day. Be careful not to burn yourself, though! If you don’t like heat, try cold packs to decrease swelling. Ice compresses are best for this purpose; they feel especially good if kept in the freezer and applied when your jaw is already puffy from inflammation.
Regular over-the-counter pain relievers can help relieve mild symptoms of TMJ disorder. Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and take them with food to avoid stomach upset. There are prescription medications available for TMJ disorder that your dentist can prescribe for you.
You can give yourself a massage after your dentist has recommended it. Use your fingers, the palm of your hand, or a small rubber ball to massage the muscles on both sides of your jaw to the point where they attach to your skull. Always massage in a circular motion with gentle pressure—never use deep pressure. Warm up the muscle by massaging before the massage session and cool down after using a cold pack.
5. Limit Jaw Movement
People with TMJ disorder should avoid opening their mouths too wide. Even yawning may be painful, so limit mouth movement to decrease pain. Keep your teeth together when you open and close your mouth, too—painful jaw movements are often a result of poor tooth alignment.
In summary, temporomandibular disorder is a problem that causes pain in the jaw joints. Exercise can help alleviate TMJD, as can heat and cold packs to the joint areas. Massage around the area of the joint also reduces pain. Your dentist may recommend prescription medications or injections for you if your symptoms are severe. Restricting mouth movement can also reduce pain.