Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, better known as TMJ or TMD, can flare up at any time, and sometimes for no apparent reason. If you’re suffering from TMJ, you know it’s no laughing matter when it does. Check out these tips to relieve TMJ-related pain on your own at home, or to find temporary relief before you can meet with a dentist trained to treat jaw joint disorders.
- Moist heat – Try wrapping a hot water bottle in a warm, moist towel. This moist heat therapy can relieve pain and improve the function of your jaw. Just be sure to keep it at a comfortable temperature—not too hot.
- Ice – Along with the moist heat, you can try an ice pack, again wrapped in a towel, only this time, make it a dry one. Alternating warm and cold can relieve inflammation, as well as numb the pain. Apply the heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, switch to the ice for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, back to the heat again.
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen – Don’t discount the benefits of a good non-prescription pain reliever. Ibuprofen has the added benefit of alleviating inflammation, too, making it one of the better home remedies for TMJ symptoms.
- TMJ Diet – When your jaw is just so sore or uncooperative that eating becomes a problem, switch your menu to soft or drinkable foods. Try fruit and yogurt smoothies you can slurp through a straw, or soup you can sip from a mug. Avoid crunchy, chewy, or hard foods, and don’t suffer through “big bite” foods like corn on the cob, sandwiches, apples or other whole fruits, and salads.
- Stress relief – Stress is one of the biggest contributors to TMJ flare-ups. Whether it’s a soothing bath, a massage, a meditation session, or just a nice curl-up with a good book and a cup of tea, do what you have to do to bring your stress level down. One of the best home remedies for TMJ is simply taking care of yourself. Keeping your stress level down may not always be the easiest thing to do, depending on your lifestyle, but you have to do whatever you can, or you’ll pay for it in the long run with days and nights of TMJ pain.
- New habits – Becoming aware of the things you do that might be exacerbating your TMJ may be one of the best home remedies you can ever apply.
- Do you clench your teeth or bite the inside of your jaw while working or reading?
- Are you guilty of cradling the phone to hold the handset?
- How about hunching over at your desk, or resting your head in your hands?
- Sleep on your stomach or back?
Any and all of these habits can cause TMJ problems. Become aware of the things you do that might be adding to your misery, and eliminate them. If you’re a jaw clencher or cheek biter, try holding a soft wine cork in your teeth. Invest in a headset for your phone. Sit up straight and focus on maintained posture. Sleep on your side, supporting your neck and shoulder with a pillow. Teach your poor tired jaw new tricks, and the number of TMJ flare ups just may decrease.
TMJ is no fun at all, and you should see a neuromuscular dentist for persistent problems. By keeping these tips in your back pocket, though, you’ll be able to find temporary TMJ relief on your own.
Explore More about TMD:
- What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
- Choosing a TMJ Mouth Guard
- TMD and Lockjaw
- What does TMJ Stand For?
- TMJ Infographic
Common TMD Symptoms: