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Temporomandibular Disorder Help

Updated on July 27, 2013

Temporomandibular disorder, TMD for short, is when the muscles and ligaments around the temporomandibular joint become inflamed. TMD is characterized by pain in your jaw, a clicking or popping noise when opening or closing your mouth, headaches, and neck or shoulder pain. Common triggers of TMD include stress, chewing tough foods, and jaw or teeth clenching.

To Relieve Pain

For sharp pain, apply cold ice packs to both sides of your face for about 10 minutes (not longer than 20 minutes). Be sure to wrap the ice packs in a towel to avoid mild frostbite.

Heat is better for a steady, dull pain. Soak a washcloth in warm water and apply to the needed area for about 20 minutes. Applying heat will increase blood circulation to the area and will relax the muscles.

To relieve muscle tightness and enhance blood flow, massage the areas around your jaw. Open your mouth and rub the muscles by the ears near the temporomandibular joints. Place forefingers on the sore area and while pressing gently, swirl them around until the muscle relaxes.

What to Avoid

-Extremely crunchy and chewy foods. You will spare your jaw from overworking.

-Do not take big bites. Doing so will overwork your jaw.

-Chewing gum, it is an exhausting workout for your temporomandibular joints. Every time you chew, you tense your jaw muscles.

-Sleeping on your stomach. If you are on your stomach and your head is turned to one side, the misalignment causes neck strain which can contribute to your jaw pain.

-Caffeine, it can increase muscle tension.

-Bad posture. Sit up straight, rather than leaning forward. You put strain on your neck and back while leaning forward, and this can contribute to your jaw pain.

Supplements to Take

-Calcium (500 milligrams)

-Magnesium (250 milligrams)

These minerals work together to help muscle relaxation. It is suggested to take them in powdered form because the powder is easily absorbed into the body.

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When to See a Doctor

You should consider seeing a doctor if it is painful to open your mouth or brush your teeth and if you still have symptoms after two weeks of self-help remedies. If your TMD is due to teeth grinding or jaw clenching, talk to your dentist about purchasing a mouth guard. They can be found at any sports or grocery store.


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