Since late April, my TMJ pain has increased. Whenever I eat or open my mouth too wide, the pain is intense, and my jaw clicks. My ears are clogged most of the day. Although I take ibuprofen, I know it’s not a permanent solution. My dentist told me to give it some time, but I’m not feeling any real relief yet. Will the pain eventually go away? – Thanks. Kenji
Kenji – TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain and discomfort can be treated in a variety of ways, including:
- TMJ exercises
- Alternately applying heat and cold packs to the side of your face where you are feeling symptoms
- Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication
But self-care isn’t always the solution.
How Long Will Your TMJ Symptoms Last?
TMJ symptoms can last a few days or a few weeks. If left untreated, your symptoms might not go away at all. At-home care can provide temporary relief for a few days. Depending on the cause and complexity of your symptoms, a long-term solution might be needed.
What Will a TMJ Dentist Do?
A dentist who is trained in diagnosing and treating TMJ issues will first examine your teeth and jaw joint. The exam will help determine if your symptoms are TMJ related.
Your dentist will let you know if the problem is related to your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), your bite (the way your teeth fit together), or another issue.
- Night guard – A night guard might be prescribed for you to wear while you’re asleep. The appliance repositions your lower jaw and helps prevent teeth grinding (bruxism), which can contribute to TMJ symptoms.
- Orthodontic treatment – At times, orthodontic treatment is needed to correctly align your teeth and prevent pain and discomfort associated with a misaligned bite.
- Therapy – Your dentist might recommend at-home exercises or physical therapy to relieve your pain and discomfort. Treatment can include learning how to correctly position your tongue, teeth, and jaw when at rest because some postures increase discomfort.
Schedule an appointment with a dentist who has advanced training and experience in treating TMJ disorders. After an examination, he or she will let you know your treatment options.
This post is sponsored by Philadelphia, PA dentist Dr. Michael Weiss.