Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jaw to your skull on either side of your face. You use these two joints every time you open your mouth, and when they hurt, you take notice.
TMJ disorders affect up to 10 million Americans and cause symptoms like joint pain, face pain, and restricted jaw mobility. Suffering from a TMJ disorder can make chewing and talking painful, but it’s not always easy to know if your symptoms warrant a trip to your doctor.
Walied Touni, DDS, MSD, specializes in TMJ care at Touni Orthodontics in Sunnyvale, California, and he’s here to answer your questions. If you’re suffering from jaw pain, here’s what to do about it.
TMJ treatments to try at home
Most of the time, TMJ pain is temporary and goes away on its own with time. Dr. Touni typically starts by recommending at-home treatments to relieve your jaw tenderness and pain.
These treatments may include:
- Ice or heat therapy
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Over-the-counter mouth guards
Rest your jaw by eating soft foods and avoiding unnecessary chewing and talking. Ice/heat therapy and over-the-counter medications can help relieve pain and swelling, while a mouth guard can take the stress off your jaw.
With these measures, you can expect your pain to subside within a few days.
When to see your doctor for TMJ pain
At-home remedies can effectively relieve temporary jaw pain, but they’re not always enough for more serious TMJ disorders. You should talk to your dentist about advanced treatment options if:
You have persistent jaw pain
Acute TMJ pain should get better after a few days of rest and at-home care. If your jaw pain lasts longer than about a week or keeps coming back, it could be a sign of an underlying condition.
You can’t open or close your mouth completely
TMJ disorders can limit your joint mobility and make it impossible to fully open or close your mouth. Sometimes, TMJ disorders can make your jaw lock. If you have a locked jaw, you’re unable to open or close your mouth freely.
You clench or grind your teeth
Bruxism is the medical term for unconsciously clenching, grinding, or gnashing your teeth. It’s a common problem, and it often leads to TMJ pain. Untreated bruxism can cause chronic pain and damage your teeth over time.
In these cases, Dr. Touni examines your mouth, asks questions about your symptoms, and reviews your medical history. Depending on your diagnosis, he may prescribe medication for jaw tension and pain, order a custom mouth guard, or recommend advanced treatment like corticosteroid injections or surgery to treat your condition.
When TMJ pain doesn’t go away on its own, you’re not out of options. Visit Dr. Touni and our team to get answers and find relief from your discomfort. Call Touni Orthodontics at 408-338-0109 or request an appointment online today.