TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, which connects your jaw to your skull. A misalignment of the TMJ limits the function of the jaw and can cause pain or even headaches. Living with TMJ pain can be difficult, and while TMJ may require treatment from an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, here are some ways in which TMJ pain can be managed.
- Reduce stress. Stress is known to cause TMJ pain for different reasons, whether tightened muscles or clenching of your teeth.
- Protect yourself while sleeping. Don’t sleep on your face and if you need to, wear a mouth guard to prevent grinding of your teeth which can affect the TMJ and result in pain or inflammation.
- Watch what you eat. Anything hard or chewy like meats, corn, apples, or candies can aggravate TMJ symptoms. The pain or discomfort can be managed by eating softer foods.
- Apply cold or heat. Heat can relax muscles and help to relieve TMJ pain. Cold is great for relieving pain as well.
- Rest the Jaw. Avoid chewing gum, yawning, laughing or anything that might cause excess movement of the TMJ.
- Take a pain reliever. OTC medications can help with TMJ pain and inflammation. Alternatively you may be prescribed a medication for TMJ pain such as a non-steroidal medication, muscle relaxer, or in more severe cases injections.
- Take supplements or eat foods that include Omega-3, leafy greens, soy, or dairy that can reduce inflammation of the TMJ.
- Physical Therapy or Massage. Jaw exercises can help increase mobility and promote healing, but remember that these need to be slow and gentle to not aggravate the TMJ. Gently massaging the TMJ can reduce pain.