Often referred to as “TMJ,” Temporomandibular dysfunction describes a group of problems related to the jaw and nearby muscles.  Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the face, jaw, ear or teeth
  • Difficulty with chewing &/or tolerating dental treatments
  • Clicking or popping noises when opening/closing the jaw
  • Headaches

If you are having these symptoms, call your dentist or doctor for an evaluation and to receive one or more of the following treatments:

  • Temporary diet change:  Soft food diet (see below) to rest the muscles of the jaw
  • New habits for managing stress and maintaining the health of your jaw, such as no gum chewing or nail biting
  • Medication to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy to decrease pain and muscle spasms in order to restore function, and to learn how to manage your condition at home if symptoms recur (refer to PDR website to learn more about our TMJ Pain Program)
  • Dental treatment to reduce pressure on the joint, which may include a night guard for teeth grinding during sleep

Meanwhile, you may try using ice and/or heat.  Ice helps reduce swelling and pain.  Heat helps relax muscles, increasing blood flow.

  • Use a gel pack or ice wrapped in a towel for severe pain.  Apply for 15-20 minutes or until the site becomes numb.  Repeat as often as you need to.
  • Use moist heat for mild to moderate muscle pain.  Apply a moist, hot towel to the muscles for 10-20 minutes.  Repeat as needed.

In addition, you should try to rest your jaw when your symptoms are the worst by eating a soft food diet, as chewing strains the jaw.  Examples include: scrambled eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, soup, smoothies, pasta, fish, mashed potatoes, milkshakes, bananas, applesauce, gelatin, and ice cream.  Avoid biting into hard foods such as whole apples, carrots, and corn on the cob.  Cut foods into bite-sized pieces, and finely chop meats.