Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD), commonly known as TMJ disorder, is a complicated group of conditions, often characterized by pain and limited mobility in the jaw and surrounding tissue.
Self Care For TMJ
Resting Your Jaw
The most important kind of self-care, resting your jaw relaxes muscles and takes the pressure off your joint, which can then heal more easily. The key to resting your jaw is keeping your teeth apart. Practicing good posture, eating soft foods, and reducing stress will also relax tense muscles and help give your jaw a break.
Keep your Teeth apart
Bring your teeth together only when swallowing or eating. Learn to recognize when you clench your teeth, such as when you’re under stress; then relax your jaw and separate your teeth.
Practice Good Posture
Good head, neck, and back posture help maintain good jaw posture, too. Try to hold your head up straight, avoid leaning on your hand when reading or watching TV, and use a lumbar roll for support behind your lower back.
Eat Soft Foods
Eat soft foods like eggs, yogurt, casseroles, and soup. Don’t chew gum, and avoid hard foods like carrots ( or put them in a blender before eating them). Eating soft foods is a temporary measure that helps you rest your jaw.
Applying Ice and Heat
Ice helps reduce swelling in your joints and muscles. Both ice and heat help relax muscles and reduce pain. Use these techniques as directed by your doctor.
Massage with ice directly on the painful area the first 24-48 hours after injury. Apply for 3-5 minutes or until the area becomes numb. Repeat several times.
Heat and Ice
Apply moist heat on tense muscles for 10 minute, then lightly brush the painful area with an ice cube. Re warm the areas for 1-2 minutes. Repeat ice and heat combination 4-5 times.
Exercising your Jaw
Exercise can help restore the normal range of motion in your jaw by improving flexibility and strengthening muscles.
Open and Close
Looking in a mirror, gently open and close your mouth straight up and down, keeping your two upper teeth and two bottom teeth aligned. Do this exercise for a minutes in the morning and in the evening.
If nothing else controls your pain when it flares up, medications might help. Aspirin is a very effective pain reliever. Your doctor may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory to help reduce pain and swelling or a muscle relaxant.