Have you ever been at work or at home, struggling to get something done because of jaw pain? Do you get frequent headaches, especially after chewing gum or a large piece of bread? Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ, can cause a myriad of symptoms that are disruptive and damaging. According to a study released by the TMJ Association, an estimated 35 million Americans suffer from TMJ, many of which are seeking treatment.

If you’ve been struggling with TMJ for awhile, and are searching for at home pain relief, this article is for you.

Man holding jaw in pain while sitting on his bed. Jaw pain and TMJ can be treated at home.

What Is TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint disorders, called TMJ or TMD, is an umbrella term which describes several types of dysfunctions which occur in the joints that connect the mandible to the jaw. Rather than a single condition like the flu or other viral infections, temporomandibular joint disorder is a collection of symptoms that can vary in severity from patient to patient. This can make both treatment and an initial diagnosis difficult, leaving patients to deal with the pain themselves. If you’ve been experiencing frequent jaw pain, headaches, or vertigo, and are searching for an at-home remedy, there are a few things you can do.

Hot and Cold Therapy

One thing you can do to relieve discomfort from TMJ is to apply a hot or cold pack to the affected area.

People often wonder: Is a hot or cold pack better for TMJ? If you have muscle pain, a hot pack can relax and loosen the muscles. If you have inflammation of the joint, a cold pack is better. If you’re unsure, use a cold pack. It will provide some pain relief and won’t aggravate inflammation.

Change Your Diet — And Your Habits

Most scientists don’t yet agree on an underlying cause of TMJ. In part that’s because the diverse condition can have diverse causes. Some have linked it to conditions like arthritis, and others to physical trauma like a car accident or head injury. One thing is clear, however, and that is that the condition can easily be aggravated by habits like gum chewing. Gum chewing with TMJ is like sprinting a mile on a sprained ankle. If the joint is already damaged, chewing gum or eating foods that require excessive chewing can exacerbate symptoms. If you’ve been experiencing serious amounts of jaw pain, putting yourself on a soft food diet can help your joint begin to heal.

Reduce Stress

Another common symptom of TMJ is teeth grinding or bruxism. This can weaken the joint over time, making TMJ symptoms more prevalent and severe. Bruxism is generally the result of stress and anxiety. If your partner has ever noticed you grinding your teeth in your sleep, or if you frequently wake up with jaw pain, it might be time to seek forms of stress relief like meditation, therapy, or both.

Schedule a Dentist Appointment

If you’ve been experiencing TMJ symptoms, scheduling a dentist appointment as soon as possible can help to avoid further joint damage. Treatment can be drug-free and comprehensive, starting with measurements of your jaw, relaxing muscles through transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and through the use of a dental appliance when can prevent teeth grinding, and help to set your jaw in a position where it can begin to heal.

Dr. Kendall and Dr. Johnson have been dealing with this disorder in people for years and with their experience, can diagnose and treat TMJ disorders successfully. A very delicate and reproducible balance must occur in the chewing system for total harmony, comfort, and stability to exist. Let us correct the TMJ problem and alleviate your pain so you don’t have to suffer from TMD anymore.

If you’re having TMJ problems, give us a call at (907) 349-0022 or contact us to let us at Excellence in Dentistry help today!