Jaw pain can be very unpleasant. You might feel pain or tightness on one side of your jaw or both. It could cause difficulty in chewing food or make you hear a clicking or popping sound when you open your mouth. You could feel like your jaw is locked or stuck. Some people even have swelling in their face or head and neck pain. TMJ disorder is one cause of these painful problems.
Treatments to Try at Home
Mild cases of TMJ disorder can often be treated at home. Here’s what you can try:
- Diet change: Switching from hard and crunchy foods to a softer diet can reduce the stress on your jaw. Try soft foods like eggs, soups, and yogurts. Avoid chewing gum.
- Treat the pain and inflammation: Use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, for temporary relief from the pain and discomfort.
- Don’t open your mouth too wide: Avoid foods that require a large bite, like apples or corn on the cob. Be careful when you yawn, and use your fist to support your chin.
- Moist heat: Place a hot water bottle wrapped in a warm, damp towel on your jaw.
- Ice: Place an ice pack wrapped in a cloth on your jaw for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Gentle exercises: Some gentle jaw exercises can increase the flexibility of your jaw. A 2017 study found that gentle stretching by opening and closing the mouth and then holding the mouth open led to a faster recovery than wearing a splint while sleeping. Other exercises are moving the jaw side to side or forwards and backwards and tucking the chin.
- Relaxation: Breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and massage can reduce overall stress and improve TMJ disorder symptoms. Avoid clenching the jaw and aim to keep the mouth relaxed and the teeth apart.
Dr. James Phelan and Dr. Tyler Phelan at Exquisite Smiles are here to diagnose and treat your jaw pain. Contact us for more information and to set up an appointment.