10 Tips for Reducing the Symptoms of TMJ

If temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) is recognized early on, individuals can find relief with some at-home remedies.

1. Start Eating a Soft Diet

Implement a soft food diet and stick with it for about a week. Foods included in this diet are soups, scrambled eggs, applesauce, mashed potatoes, well-cooked vegetables, pancakes, breads, yogurt, cottage cheese, and pasta, etc.

2. Cut Food into Small Pieces

By cutting soft food into small pieces, you can eliminate the need to open your mouth wide. In addition, smaller pieces of food are easier to chew.

3. Avoid Certain Types of Foods

Avoiding certain kinds of foods can help alleviate the symptoms of TMJ.

Foods to avoid include:

  • Sticky and chewy foods — these foods include taffy, caramel and gum, etc.
  • Difficult to eat — any foods that require you to open your mouth really wide (e.g., apples, pears, etc.).
  • Tough cuts of meat — meats to avoid include skirt steak and round steak. Jerky should also be avoided.
  • Crunchy foods — these foods include potato chips, popcorn, cold cereals, raw vegetables, hard candy and nuts, etc.

4. Moist Heat

Consider using moist heat to alleviate your symptoms. Apply the warm, not hot, moist compress to your jaw. Leave this in position for approximately 20 minutes. Be sure to place a cloth in between your skin and the compress. If the compress feels too warm, remove it, wait for it to cool, and then reapply. Heat increases blood flow to the area, reduces stiffness and helps the muscles relax.

You can purchase heat packs at your local pharmacy or online.

5. Ice Packs

Use a cold compress for about 20 minutes. Place a dry washcloth in between your skin and the compress. The ice helps decrease inflammation, which reduces pain.

Ice packs made with gel can be purchased at your local pharmacy or online.

6. Wear a Night Guard

Purchase a nightguard to wear while you sleep. A night guard can keep you from grinding and clenching your teeth as you sleep.

7. Open Your Mouth Slowly

Slowly opening your mouth while brushing and flossing can keep you from aggravating your jaw and increasing TMJ symptoms.

8. Use Medications Like NSAIDs to Reduce Swelling

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are designed to reduce inflammation which decreases pain.

9. Consider Trying Natural Supplements

You should talk to your physician before starting any new supplements.

That said, here are some natural supplements that can be helpful for individuals with TMJ:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids and Turmeric — these reduce pain by decreasing inflammation.
  • Magnesium — decreases pain by relaxing the muscles.

10. Exercise Your Jaw

Exercises can reduce jaw pain by stretching and strengthening the jaw muscles. Jaw exercises are designed to stretch, relax, strengthen and increase jaw mobility.

The three types of exercises you can use:

  • Stretching exercises.
  • Relaxation exercises.
  • Strengthening exercises.

Keep in mind that if an exercise causes additional pain you need to remove it from your regimen.

If you are experiencing jaw pain or have a dental issue that needs to be addressed, contact Dr. Michael J. Tupta at (304) 744-4150 or click here to schedule an appointment today. Dr. Tupta’s dental office is located at 1701 Oakhurst Drive in Charleston, West Virginia.