Temporomandibular joint disorders, also known as TMJ, are complex problems affecting the jaw muscles and joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. These disorders are not only painful but can also be very debilitating. They often have pain in the face and neck. TMJ tends to affect more women than men. The best way to relieve its symptoms is through home care treatments. You do not have to visit your dentist’s office whenever you experience discomfort, especially if your TMJ requires extensive oral treatment. Here are six Springfield TMJ at-home care treatments that might help you get back on track.
1. Eat Soft Foods
Eating softer foods can help treat TMJ disorders. Foods that require harder chewing, like nuts and crackers, can cause damage to the jaw and make it more painful to chew. Therefore, you should avoid eating raw vegetables or fruits that do not have a lot of pulp, such as oranges. Instead, try yogurt, pudding, scrambled eggs, fish, or applesauce. Eating these soft foods can help minimize stress on your joints significantly.
2. Avoid Chewing Gum and Biting Nails
Avoid overuse of the jaw by restricting gum chewing, biting nails, and eating chewy foods. The TMJ can become damaged when you use it too often. For example, when you chew gum or bite your nails, you might develop pain in your ear, anxiety, headaches, and soreness around your neck. Your doctor might also recommend sleeping upright with your head tilted forward to eliminate pressure on the affected joint.
3. Apply Heat or Cold
You can use heat or cold to relieve pain caused by a TMJ disorder. Ice is best for acute pain, while the heat works better for chronic pain. Apply heat or cold for 20 minutes until you feel better. You may need to apply the treatment more than once daily if you have persistent TMJ disorder symptoms. However, it would be best to do so after resting your jaw and allowing it time to heal completely before applying more treatments.
4. Relax Your Jaw Muscles
Relaxing your jaw muscles is important when struggling with TMJ disorders. You can do this by yawning or chewing softer fruits. If you have trouble relaxing your jaw muscles, talk to your doctor about what they recommend as a treatment option. Sleeping on your back can also help relax your jaw muscles and keep your head and neck in alignment.
5. Practice Jaw Muscles Exercises
You can relieve tension in your jaw muscles by practicing stretching and strengthening exercises. Jaw tension is usually a common symptom of TMJ disorders. Use elastic bands or wrist straps for 20 minutes to stretch your jaw twice a day. You should be able to feel some mild discomfort while doing this exercise. However, if you experience unbearable pain, stop and visit your doctor as soon as you can.
6. Use Over-the-counter Pain Medications
If you have been diagnosed with a TMJ disorder and are experiencing pain, treating the condition as soon as possible is important. Your doctor will likely recommend an oral anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which come in pills but can also be found in liquid form for children under 12 years old. These drugs should be taken as prescribed by your doctor and if your symptoms do not improve within two minutes, seek more effective treatments such as Tylenol.
If you are experiencing jaw pain or a TMJ disorder, a team of orthodontists at Advantage Dental Care can provide the most effective treatment. In severe cases, they might recommend braces or other appliances to keep your jaw muscles comfortable throughout the day. Call today or request an appointment to learn more about TMJ disorders.