Experience constant pressure around your jaw and ear when you eat or speak? You could be suffering from a Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorder.
Commonly known as TMJs, Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders can be caused by multiple reasons such as trauma to the jaw or joint, or due to a pre-existing condition such as arthritis.
TMJDs affect over 10 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and are the leading cause of facial pain in the U.S.
A person suffering from TMJD could have restricted jaw function and experience recurrent pain in the jaw joint and surrounding areas. Under such circumstances, it’s best to consult a professional dentist for a proper diagnosis. Once you have been diagnosed, you can try some of these self-care tips at home to manage your pain:
1. Icing or Cold Therapy:
Applying ice to the affected area can help temporarily numb the pain. Low temperature from the ice causes the blood flow to decrease, which in turn reduces inflammation and temporarily relieves you of pain.
Experts recommend icing the affected area for 15-20 minutes or less, using an ice pack wrapped in a towel. Direct contact with an ice pack or prolonged icing could lead to other complications such as frostbite or damage to the tissues around the area. Covering the icepack with a cloth or towel helps protect your skin and periodic icing gives time to the tissues to ‘warm up’, which speeds up the healing process.
2. Soft Diet:
Attempting to eat hard, crunchy food while suffering from TMJDs can be excruciatingly painful as it requires constant jaw movement to chew. Minimize the movement of your mouth by incorporating soft, easy-to-chew food in your diet.
Replace your morning toast with some scrambled eggs and oatmeal. For your dose of protein, try having some soft, fish-based dishes. You can also try smoothies and milkshakes of your choice.
Studies suggest that there is a strong link between excessive stress and TMJDs. It isn’t uncommon for people to clench their jaw subconsciously when they feel anxious or stressed. Practicing some relaxation techniques could help ease TMJ pain.
Avoid resting in positions that put pressure on your affected area. Meditation is also said to help manage pain in an effective manner. Focus on your breathing to slowly tune out the pain. Avoid unnecessary conversations to rest your jaw rest as much as possible.
While it may sound counterintuitive, correct jaw exercises have proven to be helpful in TMJD cases, according to a publication in The Journal of Dental Research. Exercise increases the chances of improved jaw mobility. Some recommended exercises include;
- Relaxed Jaw Exercise
- Goldfish Exercises
- Resisted Opening of Mouth
- Chin Tucks
- Side-to-Side Jaw Movement
Following these self-care tips could help you manage your TMJ pain on a temporary basis. For a more permanent solution, you should seek help from your local dentist, who will identify your symptoms and prescribe pain medication accordingly for quick relief.
If you’re in New City, NY, book an appointment with New City Family Dental now and our team of experienced professionals will provide dental consultations to you and your family.