Temporomandibular joint disorder, better known as TMJ, is a common condition that affects over 10 million Americans. If you have TMJ, you probably experience frequent pain or soreness in your jaw joint or muscles that control the jaw. Dr. Lance Porter, DDS and Dr. Will Warren, DDS, regularly treat patients with TMJ, helping to find ways to alleviate the discomfort associated with the disorder. Among their suggestions are:
Eat Soft Foods
Chewing hard foods requires a lot of motion from your jaw, which aggravates the soreness you experience. The more soft foods you incorporate into your diet — like yogurt, tuna, soup, eggs, whole grain pasta or rice — the more relief you are likely to experience.
Use Hot or Cold Temperatures
Nearly three out of four patients with TMJ find that applying heating pads or ice packs to the face helps to relieve pain. To avoid problems from prolonged exposure to these temperatures, limit your use of these items to 15 minutes at a time. If necessary, you can switch between hot and cold compresses to extend the relief.
Take Pain Medication
Over-the-counter pain medication can help to diminish discomfort when your jaw feels sore in spite of the interventions you have taken. Ibuprofen tends to work better than acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) because it helps with inflammation in addition to the pain. In extreme cases, medications like tricyclic antidepressants, corticosteroids and muscle relaxants may be prescribed by a doctor to improve jaw pain.
Wear a Mouthguard
Many people develop TMJ because they grind or clench their teeth while they sleep. For these patients, Dr. Porter and Dr. Warren can create a custom-fit mouthguard that they can sleep comfortably with at night. Because this guard prevents teeth grinding, you are more likely to wake up without pain in the morning.
Practice Jaw Exercises
Patients who perform jaw exercises usually notice a decrease in pain. Exercises are designed to strengthen, relax and improve the mobility of the jaw muscles. At your next appointment, speak to Dr. Porter or Dr. Warren about recommending specific exercises that may benefit your jaw.
Schedule an Appointment to Discuss TMJ Pain with an Expert
The dentists at Porter Dental Health Clinic are committed to helping you find relief for your TMJ pain. If some of these simpler solutions do not adequately address the problem, then more serious interventions like surgery may eventually be warranted. To schedule an appointment with the best team of dentists in Arkansas, please call (501) 624-2778.