Easing the Ache: How to Alleviate TMJ Disorder Pain at Home

Older Woman in Purple Shirt Relieving her TMJ DisorderYou’ve had enough of the sore jaw, sore neck, aching back, and frequent headaches. You’ve visited your orthodontist and he has diagnosed you with TMJ disorder. He’s developed a treatment plan that might include orthodontic therapy or an occlusal splint as well as a few lifestyle changes that can alleviate some of the pain associated with TMJ.

The Basics of TMJ Disorder Homecare

You can borrow a page from basic sports medicine when dealing with TMJ soreness at home and stick to hot and cold compresses and anti-inflammatory medications. Follow this basic plan to alleviate pain or soreness in the TMJs:

1)      Immediately take an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.

2)      Apply a cold compress to both sides of your face for 10-15 minutes. You can invest in a specialized reusable compress or simply wrap a freezer pack in a clean dish cloth. The cold will help to reduce pain and swelling.

3)      Next, apply a warm compress to the sides of your face for another 10-15 minutes. Microwavable rice-filled compresses work beautifully for this purpose. Heat will allow the joints to relax and become more flexible, allowing you to use them in a normal fashion without pain.

Rethink Your Diet but Don’t Get Bored

Take this opportunity to rethink how the foods you eat and beverages you drink might affect your TMJ disorder. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to completely overhaul your diet, but avoiding certain dietary choices and incorporating others can significantly improve the function of your TMJs. For instance:

  • Eat softer foods without getting bored. You don’t have to just eat oatmeal and applesauce when you have TMJ disorder. Try a new variety of pasta with any number of delicious sauces. Grab a piece of fresh fish at the market and throw it on the grill. Try sautéing or baking apples and pears with cinnamon.
  • Avoid crunchy or chewy foods such as raw, fibrous vegetable and fruit, crusty breads, beef jerky, and gum.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks as excessive caffeine intake can cause muscle tension and exacerbate your condition.

Exercise Your Right to Be Pain-Free

Getting 30-40 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times per week can aid in muscle relaxation and elevate endorphin levels, leading to natural pain relief (just take care not to grit your teeth while you work out!). You can also talk to your dentist about TMJ-specific exercises that can help alleviate pain and strengthen your joints.

About Dr. Cabal

Dr. Ciro Cabal is a dedicated family orthodontist whose lifelong passion for providing exceptional dental care continues to this day as he serves patients of all ages from Ft. Worth, Azle, Saginaw, Springtown, Weatherford, Haslet, and the surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment to discuss invisible braces at our Ft. Worth orthodontist’s office, call Lake Country Orthodontics today at (817) 236-7846.