TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) occurs when the joint that connects your upper and lower jaw is either damaged or not working properly. The problem can occur due to issues with the muscle, ligament, or bone. If you’ve had your jaw lock or click before, it’s usually not something to worry about, but if it’s something that happens frequently or doesn’t go away, you definitely need to see a dentist to figure out a treatment plan. Long-term TMJ that isn’t treated can cause a lot of pain and damage over time.
Here are a few things you can try at home to help relieve your TMJ:
- Ice: Because TMJ is due to inflammation, ice can help relieve some of the symptoms. Take an ice pack wrapped in a paper towel and hold it on your joints for 5-10 minutes at a time. Don’t over-ice because it can damage the nerves on your face.
- Heat: If your jaw is tight and you’re having difficulty opening your mouth, use a heated compress on your jaw for 20 minutes a few times a day. Gently try to improve your range of motion right after heating.
- Gum: Stay away from chewing gum or sticky foods that require a lot of jaw movement. While your symptoms are present, eat foods that are soft and easily broken down so that you don’t overstrain or further injure your jaw.
- Massage: Use your fingers to slowly massage your jaw. Massaging can help relieve some of the tension that is keeping your jaw from moving freely. Use two fingers and rub in circles around the joint. You can also draw a line from the bottom of your earlobes down to the middle of your cheeks with your fingers and back up.
- Relax: Your TMJ may be due to elevated stress levels. If you constantly have high anxiety, your sleep could be affected making your jaw even more tense. Take a few minutes each day to meditate or take a relaxing shower/bath.
Dr. Lorraine Burio of Candlewood Dental Care has been treating patients with TMJ and other dental and oral issues for over twenty-five years. If you have any questions call our office at 203-746-1200 or make an appointment here.