I think I have TMJ and I want to try to treat it myself before going to a dentist. I don’t want to have to purchase a mouth guard or splint if I don’t need one. What can I do at home to treat it? – Tabitha
Tabitha – There are some things you can do at home that may alleviate your TMJ symptoms:
- Avoid hard, chewy, or stick foods that put more pressure on the jaw muscles.
- Alternately apply heat and ice packs on the outside of your face.
- Avoid chewing gum.
- Locate your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and gently massage it. Put your finger on the triangular structure in front of your ear, just below your temple. Slide your finger forward and press while you open and close your mouth. As you press, you will likely feel soreness in the TMJ area.
- Find and do exercises for your jaw muscles. You can find suggestions on official TMJ association websites. Gently work through the exercises, and don’t overdo it.
- Find ways to relax. TMJ often results from teeth grinding, which is often stress related.
After several weeks, if your pain, jaw popping, headaches, or earaches, do not decrease, or if the symptoms increase, contact your dentist. You will likely need an oral appliance to relax your jaw muscles and prevent teeth grinding.
If you have dental insurance, contact your insurance provider to find out if any benefits are provided for a night guard. Otherwise, ask your dentist how a night guard can be made affordable for you.
This post is sponsored by Plano dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.