Do you have frequent jaw stiffness or pain? Does your face sometimes feel “tired?” Maybe you hear popping sounds when you open your mouth or experience jaw pain or soreness when chewing. If so, you may suffer from TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder. If you do, you aren’t alone: roughly 10 million Americans have TMD, with women more prone to the disorder than men.
The temporomandibular joint (or TMJ) functions much like a hinge, connecting your skull to your jaw on each side of your face. While what causes TMD is not always clear, the pain and symptoms it brings can interfere with your daily life. Finding ways to alleviate the stiffness and pain associated with TMD can begin at home, with simple lifestyle changes and exercises that reduce TMJ stress.
Dr. Timothy E. Mickiewicz frequently treats TMD symptoms with physical therapy, custom oral appliances or electrical pulse stimulation. If you are in the Sacramento, CA area, and are looking for relief from your TMJ pain, contact our office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mickiewicz.
Try these simple remedies to help alleviate TMJ discomfort:
Take an over-the-counter medication.
An anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help eliminate or reduce swelling and inflammation that contributes to pain in the jaw and face. Be sure to follow dosage instructions.
The temporomandibular joint’s unique design allows for a free range of motion, but if you have TMD, restricting movement and pressure on the jaw should improve your symptoms. When eating, avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods such as carrots, almonds, and beef jerky. Do your jaw a favor by cutting your food into small pieces, to lessen the amount of chewing needed.
Apply ice or heat.
Applying heat or ice up to four times daily can relax tired, stiff muscles and decrease swelling. Generally, heat is effective for relaxing chronically sore muscles, while ice therapy can provide relief for infrequent, intense pain. A hot water bottle or a warm, moist towel is great for applying heat evenly to your jaw. With ice therapy, apply an ice pack over a dry cloth, directly to the site of pain for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
Massage sore muscles.
If your TMJ feels sore after eating, or first thing in the morning, a quick massage can help loosen surrounding muscles and bring some pain relief. Using two fingers, simply locate the area of tension and knead the muscle in a circular motion until you feel some relief. Try starting with just a five-minute routine each day and see if you notice a difference.
Sleeping on your side or back is the best option for maintaining relaxed muscles in your jaw. Using a supportive pillow can also help reduce muscle strain in the neck and shoulders, which may be causing additional tension in your jaw.
If home remedies aren’t fully relieving your TMD symptoms, reach out to Dr. Timothy E. Mickiewicz. He has helped patients dealing with severe TMD in the northern California community for over 30 years and is currently accepting new patients. Contact our Sacramento dental office today!