If you have pain when you chew or yawn, you may already be familiar with TMJ. TMJ, also known as temporomandibular disorder, is usually caused by inflammation of the chewing muscles.
Here are some great ways to deal with TMJ! Please keep in mind that you shouldn’t push through your pain. If it hurts, stop! These should help, not hinder you.
There are two types of massage that are the most effective when dealing with this painful condition. A kneading massage is a powerful remedy. To do this yourself, feel for the muscles of your lower jaw, directly behind your molars and right below the cheekbone. Here’s a quick way to find it: touch the corner of your mouth and walk your fingers back toward your ear until you feel a flat piece of bone. Massage gently in firm circular motions to help ease the pain. Experiment with the areas surrounding this spot to see if you find some relief.
Friction massages are amazing on the lower part of your jaw at a place called the mandible muscle. Use firm, gentle, and constant pressure on this muscle for maximum effectiveness.
Gentle stretching may help ease some of the pain. Start with your mouth closed and your jaw as relaxed as possible. With teeth slightly apart, slowly open the mouth as wide as you can while looking up with your eyes. Hold this position for a few seconds, and then slowly close it. Quick, snapping motions could make things worse, so go slow in this entire stretch. Once your mouth is closed again, move jaw to the left (while looking to the right with your eyes). Hold for a few seconds, and then move back to the center. Repeat this stretch in the opposite direction. It may look a little silly, but it really works!
Heat and Cold
Apply ice packs to the side of your face and temple area for around ten minutes. Do some simple jaw stretches. When the ten minutes are up, hold a warm towel or washcloth to the side of your face for five minutes. Do this a few times a day.
NSAIDs (naproxen or ibuprofen, for instance) can relieve swelling and muscle pain. Follow the recommended dosages! With NSAIDs, as with most medicines, taking more than the recommended dose can harm your body. This is a short-term solution.
Here are some additional tips!
- When you brush and floss, be careful not to open your mouth too wide.
- If pain continues for longer than a week, or if stretching and opening your mouth causes pain, you should see a dentist or doctor.
- Keep your teeth slightly apart to relieve pressure on the jaw, especially if teeth grinding is the reason for your TMJ flare up.
- Don’t rest your chin on your hand or hold the phone between your shoulder and ear.
- If you wake with TMJ pain in the morning, consider a night guard to lessen grinding.