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Pain Drawings: An Important Tool for Health Care Practitioners

Last year we shared with you a study in which investigators found patients with more severe and chronic TMD are likely to experience other persistent pain conditions in other parts of the body, seemingly unrelated to problems in the jaw or face. Yet patients often do not mention these "overlapping" or "comorbid" pain conditions when they see a dentist or health care provider.

Primary Temporomandibular Disorders and Comorbid Conditions

The aim of this study is to evaluate the distribution of the most common comorbid conditions associated with chronic temporomandibular disorders, and the pharmacological agents which play an integral role in the overall management of temporomandibular joint disorders. Abstract: INTROD

Overdiagnosis and Unnecessary Therapy

Many dental practitioners continue to use radiographic or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) as the sole means of establishing that there is a pathology present that requires treatment.

TMD Self-Management Programs

Self-management (SM) programs in temporomandibular disease (TMD) are a core component of pain management of TMD throughout its course and are often given to patients as a first essential step after diagnosis.

Honor Families Who Bravely Battle TMD

If you haven't done so already, please join me in making a year-end contribution to The TMJ Association (TMJA) in the honor of families like mine and yours who bravely battle this disease each and every day. Since my daughter, Alexandra, b

HELP YOURSELF FIRST - REMEMBER LESS IS BEST!

  • Nov 4, 2016

Often jaw problems resolve on their own in several weeks to months. If you have recently experienced TMJ pain and/or dysfunction, you may find relief with some or all of the following therapies.

  • Moist Heat. Moist heat from a heat pack or a hot water bottle wrapped in a warm, moist towel can improve function and reduce pain. Be careful to avoid burning yourself when using heat.
  • Ice. Ice packs can decrease inflammation and also numb pain and promote healing. Do not place an ice pack directly on your skin. Keep the pack wrapped in a clean cloth while you are using it. Do not use an ice pack for more than 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Soft Diet. Soft or blended foods allow the jaw to rest temporarily. Remember to avoid hard, crunchy, and chewy foods. Do not stretch your mouth to accommodate such foods as corn on the cob, apples, or whole fruits.
  • Over the-Counter Analgesics. For many people with TMJ Disorders, short-term use of over-the-counter pain medicines or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief from jaw discomfort. When necessary, your dentist or doctor can prescribe stronger pain or anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, or antidepressants to help ease symptoms.
  • Jaw Exercises. Slow, gentle jaw exercises may help increase jaw mobility and healing. Your health care provider or a physical therapist can evaluate your condition and suggest appropriate exercises based on your individual needs.  A recent study found therapeutic jaw exercises bring earlier recovery of jaw function compared to splints! Click here to read the specific jaw exercises used in this study.
  • Relaxation Techniques. Relaxation and guided imagery can be helpful in dealing with the pain that accompanies TMJ dysfunction. Deep, slow breathing enhances relaxation and modulates pain sensations. Some have found yoga, massage, and meditation helpful in reducing stress and aiding relaxation.
  • Side Sleeping. Sleep on your side using pillow support between shoulder and neck.
  • Relax Facial Muscles. Make a concerted effort to relax your lips, and keep teeth apart.
  • Yawning. Use your fist to support your chin as you yawn to prevent damage to the joint and prevent your jaw from locking open.

In addition, avoid:

  • Jaw clenching.
  • Gum chewing.
  • Cradling the telephone, which may irritate jaw and neck muscles.

Be sure to discuss your jaw limitations with your doctor prior to surgery or a long dental appointment so he/she uses extreme caution. Anesthesia, often used during dental procedures, can affect mouth opening and damage the joint. If possible, avoid long dental appointments requiring an open mouth for more than 30 minutes. For more information about this topic, please review our Dental Hygiene Brochure (.pdf).

Remember, if your TMJ problems get worse with time, you should seek professional advice. However, first and foremost, educate yourself. Informed patients are better able to talk with health care providers, ask questions, and make knowledgeable decisions. By seeking out the information on this website, you are on the road to being an informed patient and better able to help yourself.

We suggest you read through and print out our list of questions (.pdf) to ask your doctor prior to consenting to any treatment.

Join our Community. Register Today!

The TMJ Association, Ltd. (TMJA) is the leading national resource for information on temporomandibular disorders (TMD). For over 25 years the TMJA has been raising awareness of TMJ problems, expanding research, advocating for safe and effective treatments, and providing support to TMJ patients and their loved ones.

Our hope is that everyone that visits our website will become part of the TMJ Community. You don't have to suffer from these disorders yourself to empathize and support those that do. Everyone has a role in supporting sufferers and demanding effective research and treatments for TMJ disorders.

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  • learn of unique opportunities to get involved,
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