Treating jaw pain at home; and when to see your dentist

tmj painTMJ or temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders cause a variety of discomfort and pain in the jaw and the head that can be difficult to live with until it goes away. Thankfully, TMJ pain typically lasts only a short time. In the meantime, self-care techniques can help you manage your pain and live a more comfortable life.

Dealing with minor jaw pain

When your TMJ pain is relatively low, it’s easy to treat your pain. Typically, you’re going to want to use ice packs and avoid extensive use of your mouth and jaw. For example, you must avoid big yawns or yelling, chewing gum, or eating hard foods.

You shouldn’t need any major surgery, such as orthodontic balancing, teeth grinding, or jaw joint surgery. These procedures are typically only necessary for serious pain and injury.

Severe jaw pain

If your TMJ pain starts getting severe, you need to treat it using a more strenuous treatment technique. The following methods will help decrease TMJ pain severity:

  • Apply heat for 15-20 minutes to your jaw at least two to four times a day
  • Alternate heat with ice application for 5-10 minutes, waiting at least half an hour between heat and ice application
  • Cut your food into small bits and chew with your back teeth whenever possible
  • Make sure to chew with both sides of your mouth to avoid strain
  • Eliminate muscle-tensing foods, such as caffeine, until your pain disappears
  • Don’t sleep on your stomach
  • Use pain reducing medications as necessary (with your doctor’s ok)
  • Take 120 mg of calcium every day to promote healing

If the pain persists or gets worse, call your dentist. He or she may want to examine the area to determine if any further treatment is necessary.

To learn more about TMJ pain and appropriate treatments, please contact us today. We are available for all your dental needs in Centennial, Colorado.