Why Does My Jaw Hurt? Part II

Written By Dr. Kyle Griffith

Welcome back, 58 Dental family. This is a continuation of the previous blog on TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder). In this blog, we will cover at-home self-management techniques that are very useful to those suffering with TMD. Let's begin.

The beauty of the self-management techniques is that they are simple, relatively effective, and cost very little. This is really the starting point for anyone suffering from TMD.

Self-management techniques:

  • Apply warm heat: Place a heating pack over the area of the joint or muscles that are painful. Heat will increase the circulation in the area and help decrease inflammation. This can be done multiple times per day. Be careful to avoid burning yourself.
  • Ice: Place an ice pack over the area of the joint or muscles that are painful. The ice will help decrease inflammation and will slightly "numb" the area. Be careful to avoid freezing your skin.
  • Soft Diet: Remember that the joint and muscles are aggravated. A soft diet will help decrease the amount of force and time it takes to eat a meal.
  • No gum chewing: Anything, like gum chewing, where the muscles and joint are used repeatedly, should be avoided.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications: Consult with your dentist first, but medications from the family of NSAIDs (Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve) work well for decreasing pain and inflammation.
  • Relax the jaw and keep teeth apart: If you find that throughout the day your teeth are touching, whether this is from resting your teeth together or from clenching or grinding, this is not the natural resting position for the jaw joint and muscles. The teeth should only touch during chewing. To find the natural resting position of the jaw, do the following:
    • Lick your lips.
    • Let your jaw hang freely and move it side to side and then, relax.
    • Slowly close YOUR MOUTH until your lips barely touch.
    • Notice that I said, "your mouth" - If you focus on closing your teeth together, you will end up with your teeth touching, which is not what we want.
    • By following these steps, you should find that your lips are barely touching and your teeth are slightly separated.

The next blog in this series will discuss what dental professionals can do to manage TMD.

If you or a person you know suffers from TMD, please do not hesitate to contact 58 Dental for a comprehensive evaluation to determine the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Kyle Griffith DMD
7090 E. Hampden Ave.
Denver, CO. 80224

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