The temporomandibular joints are located on each side of the head and assist with chewing, swallowing, and speaking. TMJ pain occurs when this intricate system of muscles, bones, ligaments, and discs fails to work as efficiently as it normally would. Ailments of the TMJ region can be caused by a variety of things, including injury,…
Can TMJ Go Away on Its Own?
In the dental community, TMJ disorders are a relatively common issue. Many adults experience the telltale signs of jaw problems at some point in time. These can include
- Pain or soreness
- Tension and stiffness
- Clicking/popping when opening or closing the mouth
- Trouble opening the mouth fully
For some people, TMJ disorder is a serious, chronic problem that requires medical intervention. However, some patients find that making a few simple changes can help alleviate symptoms and even prevent them from returning in the future.
Home remedies for TMJ problems
When symptoms are mild to moderate, a dentist may recommend home remedies first. The following practices can help reduce pain and swelling for most people. In some situations, no further treatment is needed.
Warm and cold compresses
Heat relaxes tense muscles, while cold compresses reduce inflammation. TMJ disorders can be the result of both tight jaw muscles and swollen joints. Therefore, alternating between the two can help ease discomfort.
Eating hard, tough, or chewy foods can aggravate symptoms. Sticking to a diet of softer foods can reduce strain on the joints and muscles of the jaw. In addition, consuming foods rich in omega-3s and getting adequate hydration can help reduce joint inflammation.
NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can help alleviate soreness by reducing swelling in the body. While these medications are safe for most people when used temporarily, extended use poses several health risks. In addition, the ingredients may interact with other drugs or aggravate existing medical conditions. NSAIDs are not a healthy long-term solution if symptoms persist.
Patients who habitually grind or clench their teeth may suffer from TMJ disorders as a result. Performing daily stretches and jaw exercises can help relax tight muscles and reduce pain. Whole-body relaxation exercises can also be beneficial.
Other lifestyle changes
Those with poor posture and high stress levels are more at risk for jaw problems. Patients should strive to correct any posture issues and find healthy ways to reduce stress. Regular exercise can help in both areas.
Professional treatment options
When pain and inflammation do not respond to home remedies, professional treatment may be required. For patients with chronic bruxism, wearing a nightguard can help reduce clenching and teeth grinding during sleep. Improving tooth alignment can, in turn, improve jaw alignment, which may alleviate TMJ disorders in some patients.
When a person experiences severe or persistent jaw pain, prescription medications may be required. Some dentists may also use electrical or laser therapy to treat the affected area. When all other options fail, surgery may be needed to correct the problem.
While many at-home and professional treatments can help relieve painful symptoms, it is important to note that those who experience TMJ issues may experience a relapse down the road. This is especially true for those who are at a higher risk, such as patients with existing joint or arthritis issues. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping stress under control can certainly help keep TMJ disorder from coming back. Patients should notify a dentist if symptoms linger or return in the future.
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