You make facial movements every day without giving them much thought. These movements include laughing, chewing, talking, and smiling. Your mouth’s movements are facilitated by temporomandibular joints (TMJ). TMJs are joints on the jaw’s top and bottom that help moves your mouth.
Pain related to TMJ is called temporomandibular pain disorder (TMD). It can affect anyone but often starts in adolescents during puberty. During that time in a young person’s life, the growth plates on their jaw close. TMD also takes place from tooth grinding, clenching, or facial injury.
TMD is characterized by headaches, earaches, and neck pain. If you’re experiencing TMD, you’re likely looking for ways to feel better.
In this article, we discuss treatments to ease pain related to TMJ.
1. Correct Your Posture
Good posture is essential to maintaining your TMJs. Correcting your posture can also correct jaw alignment. The result of these adjustments is that they decrease pain. Improving your posture can also help reposition and redistribute pressure on the TMJs.
Sit straight with your shoulders and check if you’re sticking your neck. If you are, try to relax and lean back a little bit. The goal is to keep your shoulders back and neck relaxed but still upright. Better posture should help ease the pain.
2. Eliminate TMJ Triggers
A TMJ trigger can be tooth grinding, clenching, or chewing too hard. Removing the trigger can ease discomfort. For example, try chewing gum without mashing your teeth if you chew gum when the pain hits.
You may also use a mouth guard to protect your teeth from being chipped. A mouth guard is an excellent option if you lose sleep due to TMJ pain. How it works is that it helps maintain proper alignment while you sleep. You can order a custom-fitted mouth guard from a dentist to treat TMJ.
3. Use a Cold Compress
A cold compress on your jaw may help alleviate pain by reducing swelling. The cold can also numb the pain.
Try using ice packs for 20 minutes at a time, up to six times per day. With an ice pack, it’s vital to place it on your lower neck rather than just on the TMJ area. So, keep this in mind as you use a cold compress.
4. Reduce Stress
Reducing stress can improve your overall health and help you manage TMD. Stress is a common trigger for TMD, so managing your stress levels can reduce pain.
To get rid of stress, you can do the following:
- Learn relaxation techniques
- Take time for yourself
- Laugh more
- Get a massage
- Try yoga
In regards to getting a massage, it can help relieve pain and stress in the shoulders, neck, and back.
As mentioned, you can also try yoga. A yoga instructor can teach poses that strengthen your muscles and build stability.
5. Exercise Your Jaw
Exercising your jaw muscles can help improve alignment and increase their tone. You can do this with a chin-up or pulling exercise.
You may need to work on more challenging exercises if you have TMD. It’s best to start with gentler movements. If you start feeling pain during an exercise routine, stop immediately. At this time, it’s best to rest until the pain subsides.
6. Eat Soft Foods
Your diet can affect your TMJ pain. Avoid foods that are hard to chew, such as popcorn, nuts, or ice cream.
Eating foods that are easy to chew and don’t require a lot of biting force is essential. There are also plenty of foods you don’t have to chew! Chewing less is easier on your jaw and reduces the amount of pain you may experience.
7. Get Good Sleep
Your sleep schedule can also have an impact on your pain and discomfort. For example, avoid sleeping on your back because it increases pressure on the muscles and joints. If you must sleep on your back, try to put a pillow under your neck to reduce tension.
You may be experiencing pain or discomfort, making it difficult to eat or sleep. If it’s hindering you from getting rest, consider seeing a dentist familiar with TMJ dysfunction. The sooner you seek help, the better your chances of reducing pain.
There are many types of treatment options depending on your symptoms and needs. So, you should feel hopeful that there’s something that will work well for you. However, if you suffer from TMD, it’s best to make an appointment with a professional dentist. With various treatment options, you should experience less pain and recover.