TMJ dysfunction refers to a family of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint — the main joint that attaches your bottom jaw to the base of your skull. These can manifest as pain when chewing or speaking, a “clicking” sensation when opening your jaw, or feeling as though your jaw is “locked” in place. While the causes of TMJ disorders are variable, diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders are much more effective now than in the past.
This is usually accomplished with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant.
Steroids can be injected directly into the joints to reduce pain and inflammation.
Resting Your Jaw
Tensing or overexerting your jaw can lead to pain and soreness in the muscle around your head, neck and jaw.
When Not Eating or Swallowing, Try to Keep Your Jaw Relaxed and Your Teeth Apart
Consciously separating your teeth can stop you from tensing your jaw muscles or clenching your teeth.
Choosing Soft Food
Soft foods minimize pressure and tension on the saw and are easier to eat when suffering from pain.
Using Hot and Warm Compresses
A combination of ice and heat therapy can soothe the jaw muscle and alleviate inflammation.
Moving Your Jaw
Keeping your jaw in a single position or having a weak jaw can lead to pain and tension.
Keeping the Correct Posture
Keeping your neck and back in alignment can also relieve uneven pressure on the jaw — even subconsciously.
Special techniques such as biofeedback or physical therapy may also be recommended, as well as a temporary, clear plastic appliance known as a splint.
Different appliances like splints, night guards or anterior positioning devices are used at different times and for different reasons, but each can help move your jaw into a specific position or alleviate muscle tension or teeth grinding. This protects the surfaces of the joint and the cartilage in between in your jaw to reduce pain and encourage proper alignment. They can also help prevent tooth wear in certain cases.