The joints at the back of the jaw are used in every oral activity. These joints slide from side to side to facilitate chewing and speaking. They open and close, and move forward and back to facilitate breathing as well. Under certain circumstances, such as tooth grinding or clenching, the temporomandibular joints, and the muscles that surround them, can become dysfunctional. For some, the symptoms of TMJ disorder are mild, and disappear within a few weeks. However, there are people for whom TMJ becomes chronic, often gradually worsening.
We encourage our Los Angeles area patients to seek TMJ pain relief with a combination of self-care and professional treatment with a customized oral appliance. Steps that can be taken at home include:
- Applying both heat and ice, alternating between the two. Moist heat can alleviate pain and increase function of irritated joints and muscles. Periodic application of ice packs promotes decrease inflammation and slightly numbing sore muscles, while heat packs increase circulation and promotes healing. Neither heat nor ice should be applied directly to skin. Instead, wrap in a thin towel and keep it on for no more than 15 minutes at a time.
- Eating soft foods gives irritated TMJs a break from excessive chewing, and limits movement, promoting faster healing.
- Discomfort from TMJ disorder can be reduced with over the counter anti-inflammatory medication. These should not take the place of other remedies, which are aimed at relieving pressure and undue stress on affected joints. If symptoms do not improve with over the counter medication, it is best to contact our office for professional treatment.
- Learning to relax specific muscles. Part of the issue with TMJ disorder is tension. You can learn to relax the muscles of the face, neck, and shoulders to decrease symptoms and provide rest for the jaw. Specifically, train yourself to fall into a relaxed state where teeth are apart and lips are loose.
- Avoid chewing gum, as the excessive motion irritates affected joints and muscles.
Downtown Dental has the expertise and technology to treat TMJ disorder in a non-invasive manner. With a customized oral appliance prescribed for wear at night, we encourage the proper positioning of the jaw and bring end to uncomfortable symptoms.
Contact us to find relief from TMJ disorder.