Posted on: 11 July 2016
Do you often suffer from pain in your jaw that's centralized below your ear? Known as TMJ pain, this condition is caused by inflammation and irritation of the temporomandibular joint. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help make you more comfortable, but it's just a temporary fix – and pain relievers are not always the best option since they can lead to side effects. To better manage your TMJ pain, try these methods.
Get fitted for a mouth guard.
In many cases, TMJ pain is caused or made worse by grinding the teeth at night. You're probably not aware that you're grinding your teeth since you're asleep while you're doing it, but your dentist can examine your teeth for signs of wear that indicate you're engaging in this behavior. If your dentist agrees that you may be grinding your teeth, he or she can design a mouth guard for you to wear at night. This guard will keep you from grinding your teeth, or even if you can grind a little, it will provide some padding so you're not irritating your jaw so much as you grind.
Do not substitute a mouth guard made for sports use and sold at your local drugstore for one that's custom-made by your dentist. Mouth guards of this type are not intended to be worn long-term and may make matters worse by pushing your teeth out of alignment or placing your jaw in an uncomfortable position.
Apply ice to your jaw.
Icing the sore area can reduce inflammation, which in turn will alleviate a lot of your pain. Place a thin towel over your face, and then hold an ice pack against the area for about 20 minutes. Repeat this several times throughout the day to keep inflammation down. If you're having trouble with the ice pack because it does not form to the curve of your face, consider using a bag of frozen veggies instead.
Stick to softer foods.
Chewing through a tough steak or crunching on oodles of nuts and hard candy is not easy on your jaw and may make your TMJ pain worse. So, when your pain is acting up, stick to soft foods like pasta, fish, yogurt, and soft fruits. Over time, your pain should subside, and then you can add more crunchy and chewy foods back into your diet.
For more tips on managing your TMJ pain, speak with your dentist, like Scott W. Murphy, D.M.D., P.A.Share