Anyone who has had a toothache or braces will know how uncomfortable the pain can be. But pain from TMJ can sometimes be even worse. While the condition will typically go away on its own, it can be incredibly difficult to handle the pain and no one should have to just wait for it to go away.
At Valley Ridge Dental, we aim to provide our patients with more than just dental cleanings. Our team of dentists at hygienists are highly skilled and experienced in providing a range of treatments, from root canals to veneers and TMJ pain. If you are struggling with tooth pain or jaw pain, don’t hesitate to call Dr. Katie Daniels for treatment and care.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower and upper jaw at the base of the skull. You use this joint when you eat, yawn, or talk, and pain can develop from grinding or clenching your teeth, arthritis, an injury, frequently chewing gum, stress, or even poor posture.
Patients living with TMJ experience pain or tenderness in the joint, swelling, toothaches, headaches, dizziness, locked jaw, or a clicking feeling when trying to open or close the mouth.
At-Home Treatments for TMJ
There are a variety of at-home treatments that patients can try, or if those methods aren’t relieving the pain, the best option is to visit with your local dentist.
- Eat Soft Foods: The less stress there is on the joint, the easier it will be for it to heal. Consider eating soups, bananas, beans, or cheeses. Also try to avoid foods that require you to open your mouth wide, like hamburgers.
- Good Posture: If you often rest your head on your hand, this adds pressure to the joint, which can cause pain.
- Skip Chewing Gum: The repetitive motion of chewing gum can add stress to the joint, potentially causing symptoms or making existing pain worse.
- Keep Your Mouth Relaxed: This is easier said than done, however, try as best as you can to keep your teeth positioned slightly apart as often as possible. If you can, avoid stress that can cause you to clench your teeth, such as work.
- Massage: Gently massage the jaw bone area and neck, or ask your dentist about stretches that you can do at home.
- Heat or Cold Packs: If you are experiencing any swelling, alternate between applying heat and cold packs.
If pain hasn’t lessened and you are still experiencing symptoms, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Valley Ridge Dental may recommend:
- Night Guards: Many patients either grind or clench their teeth at night when they’re sleeping. This can be avoided by using a plastic nightguard, which will help protect your teeth and joints.
- Physical Therapy: Professional massage or stretches may be necessary to help strengthen the jaw.
- Surgery: While not common, surgery is sometimes necessary to treat TMJ. Possible procedures include arthrocentesis, TMJ arthroscopy, or modified condylotomy.
Living with pain from TMJ can significantly alter your quality of life, especially when the pain and symptoms don’t seem to be getting better. If you believe it’s time to see a dentist, the team at Valley Ridge Dental can assure you that we’ll provide the best care possible.