TMJ Disorder Management
Jaw pain is often associated with muscles that function in tandem with the TMJ. The term “TMJ” relates to the temporomandibular joint which is located on both sides of a person’s head anterior to the ear. This joint is involved in our mouth’s opening and closing. Sometimes, due to injury, stress, or joint-related illnesses, these muscles may become inflamed and this can impact one’s ability to chew, speak, open, or close their mouth.
Our doctors have extensive experience in treatment and management of TMJ related disorders and can work closely with you in helping to alleviate your pain and prevent recurrence.
If a TMJ-related disorder is due to muscular pain from overuse particularly from clenching, which is often the case, a number of things can be done to relieve this discomfort. The following protocol should be observed for 2 weeks with follow-up with your dentist or oral surgeon if symptoms do not improve.
- Follow a soft diet with limited opening
- OTC NSAIDs (if tolerable) at regular intervals. Ibuprofen and Naproxen have been shown to be effective but should be taken with food and only if no systemic interactions are not of concern
- Alternating cold and warm compresses in the evening
- Gentle massage of the TMJ joint to loosen muscles and increase blood flow
If clenching one’s jaw has caused the muscles in this area to become inflamed, your dentist may also recommend a nightguard or similar appliance to prevent your teeth from becoming damaged from grinding or clenching. Nightguards are great at preventing breakdown of people’s teeth due to clenching-related trauma (“bruxism”). However, nightguards themselves are not necessarily the primary treatment for the muscular pain associated with TMJ disorders. Sometimes, additional treatment, often administered in tandem with an oral surgeon, is necessary to break the cycle of inflammation and discomfort.
There is also the possibility that TMJ related disorders are due to bone degeneration, possibly from systemic illness such as rheumatoid arthritis or neuralgia. A complete work-up is necessary by either a dentist, ENT, or oral surgeon to appropriately evaluate TMJ-related disorders and recommend the best treatment.