Simple, gentle therapies are usually recommended first.
- Learn how to gently stretch, relax, or massage the muscles around your jaw. Your doctor, dentist, or physical therapist can help you with these.
- Avoid actions that cause your symptoms, such as yawning, singing, and chewing gum.
- Try moist heat or cold packs on your face.
- Learn stress-reducing techniques.
- Exercising several times each week may help you increase your ability to handle pain.
Read as much as you can, as opinion varies widely on how to treat TMJ disorders. Get the opinions of several doctors. The good news is that most people eventually find something that helps.
Ask you doctor or dentist about medications you can use:
- Short-term use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Muscle relaxant medicines or antidepressants
- Rarely, corticosteroid shots in the TMJ to treat inflammation
Mouth or bite guards, also called splints or appliances, have been used since the 1930s to treat teeth grinding, clenching, and TMJ disorders.
- While many people have found them to be useful, the benefits vary widely. The guard may lose its effectiveness over time, or when you stop wearing it. Other people may feel worse pain when they wear one.
- There are different types of splints. Some fit over the top teeth, while others fit over the bottom teeth.
- Permanent use of these items is not recommended. You should also stop if they cause any changes in your bite.
Failure of more conservative treatments doe not automatically mean you need more aggressive treatment. Be cautious about any nonreversible treatment method, such as orthodontics or surgery, that permanently changes your bite.
Reconstructive surgery of the jaw, or joint replacement, is rarely required. In fact, studies have shown that the results are often worse than before surgery.
For more information, see The TMJ Association — www.tmj.org
For many people, symptoms occur only sometimes and do not last long. They will go away in time with little or no treatment. Most cases can be successfully treated. Some cases of pain go away on their own without treatment. TMJ-related pain may return again in the future. If the cause is nighttime clenching, treatment can be very tricky because it is a sleeping behavior that is hard to control.
Mouth splints are a common treatment approach for teeth grinding. While some splints may silence the grinding by providing a flat, even surface, they may not be as effective at reducing pain or stopping clenching. Splints may be effective in the short-term but could become less effective over time. Some splints can also cause changes in your bite. This may cause a new problem.
- Chronic face pain
- Chronic headaches
Calling Your Health Care Provider
See your health care provider right away if you are having trouble eating or opening your mouth. Keep in mind that a wide variety of possible conditions can cause TMJ symptoms, from arthritis to whiplash injuries. Experts who are specially trained in facial pain can help diagnose and treat TMJ.
Pictures & ImagesCauses of secondary headache
Review Date : 1/10/2010
Reviewed By : Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine and David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. Also reviewed by Jack D. Rosenberg, DDS, Advanced Dental Care, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Rosenberg’s review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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