Many people suffer through years of unexplained headaches and facial pain, trying their best to control discomfort with over-the-counter pain relievers. They’ll usually seek medical help, but since the symptoms can indicate a number of illnesses, TMJ disorder is often misdiagnosed or ignored. Your temporomandibular joints, or TMJs, are the large joints that hold connect your lower jaw to your skull at the temporal bones (in front of each ear). These joints and the muscles surrounding them allow your jaw to move the way it does. When discomfort arises from damaged or distressed TMJs, the condition is called TMJ disorder, and the symptoms can include chronic headaches, tooth grinding (bruxism), or pain in the face and neck region. As a dentist in Waco, Texas, Dr. Locke, can help you treat TMJ disorder, but offers these tips to try at home before seeking professional help.
Ease Your Jaw Pain at Home
- In many cases, the discomfort of TMJ disorder, or TMD, results from tense and over-stressed jaw joints and muscles. Applying heat to the area can help relax the muscles and ease the tension. Try placing a heating pad or hot water bottle on both sides of your jaw, just in front of each ear. Be careful not to heat the item too much, or you may burn your skin.
- Cold can also offer relief by reducing swelling and easing pain. To combat pain and muscle tightness, alternate heat with an ice pack or cubes of ice wrapped in a small towel.
- Massage the joints on either side to help relax your jaw and prevent muscle spasms and locked jaw. Over-the-counter pain medications and muscle relaxers can also offer relief.
- Stress can cause you to grind your teeth, a habit called bruxism, and can lead to or worsen symptoms of TMJ disorder. Try relaxation techniques like yoga or deep breathing, or stress-release techniques like exercise or a hobby.
If your symptoms persist in spite of your best efforts to relieve them, contact Dr. Locke today. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Corbet Locke by calling our Waco dental office at (254) 776-4888. We welcome patients from Waco, Woodway, McGregor, Hewitt, and surrounding communities.