Problems such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders re more common than many people realize. There are at least 35 million people around the United States who have received a diagnosis of TMJ or TMJD. It has been estimated that about 15% of the nation suffers from some kind of chronic facial pain. This includes headaches, earaches and pain in the jaw. Women have more TMJD and TMDJ than men and it is more prevalent during their childbearing years. TMJ can be linked to jaw arthritis as well.
Approximately 50 to 67% of all people who suffer from TMJ will seek out treatment. About 15% of sufferers will develop a chronic problem. This may or may not be connected to jaw arthritis. There are some things you can do to make the pain and discomfort from this get better, though in a number of instances, it does resolve on its own.
- Try moist heat. You can either get a heat pack or you can take a hot water bottle and wrap a warm, damp cloth or towel around it. This can relax the muscles of your jaw and make it feel better. You need to be careful to not make the hot water bottle or heat pack too hot. It is far too easy to burn yourself if you are not careful.
- Try ice. Some people do better with heat but others have better experiences when they use ice for facial pain management. You can either take some ice and place that in a bag, use a cold pack or a bag of frozen peas. The main thing when it comes to using cold for jaw arthritis, TMJD or anything else is to not place the cold directly on your skin. You should also not keep it on for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
- Use a mouth guard at night. Many people who have TMJD or who suffer from jaw arthritis also have a problem with teeth grinding. This is bad for your jaw and your teeth. There are night mouth guards you can get at the pharmacy or others that your dentist can make for you. Either way, by stopping the teeth grinding, you can get a lot of relief.
- Try a softer diet for a while. Eating softer foods for a while can let your jaw get some rest. Just give it a break from crunchy, hard or very chewy options for your meals.
- Try some anti-inflammatories. There are some great over the counter medicines that help with all kinds of joint problems such as TMJD and jaw arthritis. Medical professionals have found that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can be very effective for people with these kinds of pain. You can try ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
- Talk to your doctor about prescriptions. If you are having a real problem and the over the counter medicine does not help, your doctor (or your dentist) can prescribe stronger medications to help. They can include muscle relaxants, pain medications or more potent anti-inflammatories.
- Work on relaxation. There are some meditation techniques that can help with muscle pain associated with jaw arthritis and TMJD. When you work on your deep breathing, you will become more relaxed. This can do a lot to help with the pain of TMJ and jaw arthritis. The more stressed you are, the more you clench your jaw, which leads to pain. The more relaxed you can get your jaw muscles, the better you will feel.
- Try sleeping on your side. Give your neck support by placing a pillow between it and your neck. This can do a lot to help with the jaw pain.
- Work on jaw exercises. These can help relax your muscles, help with the pain and improve your jaw mobility. Talk to your doctor or dentist for more information.
Jaw problems, from jaw arthritis or anything else, can cause other problems. From needing migraine headache treatment to extensive dental work from teeth grinding, problems with your jaw can lead to a host of other issues. Luckily, there are many ways to get relief. If you are concerned, the first thing to do is talk to your doctor or dentist.