People with Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) have problems with the jaw, jaw joint, and surrounding muscles that control jaw movement.  Some people associate this with ‘TMJ’ but the correct term is TMD.

If you have not been diagnosed by a doctor, it’s easy to come in and get a consulatation and go over possible treatments.  Often, an occulusal night guard can help patients who grind or clench their teeth, thus causing sore muscles in the jaw.

Self-care is an essential part of treatment.  I’ve listed 12 recommendations that are effective in helping patient’s manage their TMD:

1. REST MUSCLES AND JOINTS to allow for healing.  Rest includes:  1) Eating a ‘Soft Food Diet.’  Avoid crunchy, chewy foods (hard nuts, chips, carrots, etc).  2) Don’t chew gum, bite your nails, or chew on pencils or anything else.  3) Do Not Clench or Grind.  Learn the ‘Lips together, teeth apart’ position.

2.  AVOID OPENING TOO WIDE to protect the joints and prevent them from locking open. 1) Yawn against Pressure by placing a fist under the chin.  2) Eat small bites.  3) Avoid General Anesthesia when possible.  4) Avoid long dental appointments.  Rest frequently during all dental appointments.

3. APPLY COLD for 5-10 minutes for severe pain, new injuries (less than 72 hours) and reinjury.

4. APPLY MOIST HEAT for 20 minutes for mild to moderate pain to increase circulation and muscle relaxation.  This promotes healing.

5. MASSAGE the jaw and temple muscles.  This stimulates circulation, relaxes muscles, and decreases soreness. Acupressure massage the Hoku point, found between the thumb and forefinger.  This decreases jaw pain and headaches.

6. MAINTAIN GOOD POSTURE.  Avoid a forward head posture which increases your jaw and neck muscle tension.  Do not rest your chin on your hand.

7. TELEPHONE USE.  Do not cradle the phone between your chin and shoulder because it irritates the jaw and neck muscles.

8. SLEEPING POSITION: sleep on your side lying with pillow support between the neck and shoulders and soft support along the face and jaw.  Or sleep on your back with the neck curve supported.

9. EXERCISE 20-30 minutes at a time, 3-4 times a week.  Choose low impact exercises to minimize pressure on the joints.

10. YOGA AND MEDITATION are helpful for pain and inflammation.

11. GOOD NUTRITION promotes joint and muscle healing.

12. TAKE MEDICATION to reduce muscle swelling and pain recommended to you by your doctor.

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