How Do You Relieve TMJ Pain?

How Do You Relieve TMJ Pain?

Team TMJ

More than 10 million people in the U.S. are estimated to suffer from TMJ pain. Pain that originates in the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull, can range in severity from mildly uncomfortable to excruciating. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of people (90-95%) diagnosed with a TMJ disorder will get relief from non-surgical treatments available from a dentist.

What Causes TMJ Pain?

TMJ pain results from a problem in the jaw joint. In 5-10% of patients, the problem may be skeletal, requiring surgery. In these cases, the person may have dislocated the disc in the joint or may have been born with a structural abnormality. For all others suffering from TMJ pain, the causes include:

  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching)
  • Strain and inflammation
  • Improper bite

Although no one wants to be in pain, there is excellent news for those diagnosed with TMJ. In many cases, very simple lifestyle changes and conservative treatments are likely to mitigate or eliminate your pain.

TMJ Treatments Available from Your Dentist

Dentists treat TMJ disorders more than any other healthcare provider. They will design a treatment plan based on the cause of your pain. For example, an oral exam will reveal signs of teeth grinding, including small cracks in the teeth, enamel erosion, or gum inflammation. If you receive a diagnosis of bruxism, your dentist will likely fit you for a custom night guard (called a stabilization splint or flat plane splint)  to prevent you from grinding your teeth while sleeping. 

Likewise, if the cause of TMJ pain is arthritis, your dentist may recommend anti-inflammatory medications, or a custom night guard to alleviate pressure on the joint which increases inflammation. You may also be a candidate for Botox injections, which temporarily paralyze the movement of muscles needed to clench and grind your teeth at night. 

If the pain you’re experiencing is because of a misaligned bite, orthodontic treatment with Invisalign can correct your bite, so that you’re no longer straining the jaw joint. 

At-Home Remedies for TMJ Pain

Much like there are ways that patients can improve the health of their teeth and gums at home, there are also many ways that patients can reduce TMJ pain at home.

Icing the exterior of the jaw joint can reduce swelling due to arthritis or teeth grinding. Switching to a soft-food diet temporarily can also reduce stress and strain on the jaw joint. 

It’s also important for people with TMJ pain to manage stress in their lives. Although stress doesn’t directly cause TMJ disorders, it is strongly correlated with bruxism. Indeed, even patients who have no history of teeth grinding may begin clenching or grinding during stressful periods in life. 

Managing stress has wonderful oral health and overall health benefits. So, how do you manage stress?

  • Limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Avoid all forms of nicotine (smoking, vaping, smokeless tobacco)
  • Get regular exercise
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet
  • Engage in calming activities, such as deep breathing or mindful meditation
  • Practice slow, controlled stretching (yoga, tai chi, etc.)
  • Nature walks
  • Participate in activities that you enjoy (reading, drawing, painting, sewing, etc.)
  • Sauna, massage, or other relaxing treatments

Frequently Asked Questions about TMJ 

Is TMJ a chronic condition?

It can be. If the underlying cause of the pain from TMJ is not managed, the condition can worsen over time. However, most patients find relief from TMJ pain with non-surgical treatments and lifestyle changes.

Can I use CareCredit for a Night Guard for TMJ?

Absolutely. Kensington Natural Smiles accepts CareCredit for all TMJ treatments, including custom splints,  mouth guards, and Botox injections. 

Get Non-Surgical Relief from TMJ Pain at Kensington Natural Smiles

At Kensington Natural Smiles, in Kensington, MD, Dr. Susan Ho and Dr. Suprina Kaur provide non-surgical treatment for TMJ pain. With a focus on improving overall health and wellness to achieve optimal oral health, Kensington Natural Smiles is a comprehensive, dental practice that provides compassionate, holistic oral healthcare for all ages. To schedule an appointment, call 301-933-3903 or send us a message