Treating TMJ disorders can be challenging, especially since some of the symptoms associated with it can simply get better over time. That’s also why most health care providers opt for the least invasive options. Here are some suggestions that are pretty easy to do.
Eat softer foods
If your TMJ problems are relatively minor, your dentist may recommend that you switch up your diet by adding a few softer foods. Reducing the amount of chewing you need to do can offer some much-needed TMJ relief. Yogurt, scrambled eggs, smoothies, soup, and mashed potatoes are all great choices. Avoid crunchy and chewy foods like carrots and candy. Chewing gum may also aggravate the problem.
Try pain relief meds
Dentists often recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) (such as Advil) which are available over-the-counter and can help control pain and inflammation caused by TMJ disorders. However, it’s important to bear in mind that these medications may not actually help to treat the root of the problem. Botox has also become an increasingly popular treatment for TMD pain, although its efficacy is not well documented. Just one thing to remember: Before you take any medication, be sure to consult your dentist or primary care provider.
Opt for a non-drug therapy option
There are lots of non-drug related therapy options to consider. For example, a bite guard or stabilization splint may be beneficial, particularly if you grind your teeth at night. Word of warning, while this piece of dental equipment can be an effective treatment for bruxism and its associated dental problems, there’s no evidence that wearing a TMJ mouth guard can provide pain relief for TMJ-related disorders.
Consider physical therapy
Some people find that specialized TMJ exercises can act as effective TMJ relief. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, TMJ exercises like side-to-side jaw movement, resisted mouth closing, resisted mouth opening, and tongue up can help to make your temporomandibular joint muscles stronger, while they may also help stop the pain from returning.
Learn relaxation techniques
Learning techniques for relaxing and reducing stress, such as meditation, guided imagery and breath work, as well as yoga, tai chi and qigong may ease symptoms and improve overall wellness.
This has become increasingly popular in the treatment of TMJ disorders and according to the Merck Manual, studies suggest it’s a helpful supplement to treatment for short-term relief of pain and discomfort.
Reviewed by Dr. Natalie Pennington, DDS, January 2019
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National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
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