TMJ Dysfunction: A Common Cause Of Jaw Pain

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By Dr. Kevin Bloom
TMJ Dysfunction is a common cause of jaw pain.

TMJ Dysfunction is a common cause of jaw pain.

TMJ Dysfunction is a condition whereby there is pain in the jaw joint and/or in the surrounding region.  There is often an accompanied clicking or grinding sensation within the jaw joint.  The exact cause is often not known.  The following list comprises a number of strategies for this condition:

  • Eat softer foods (ie.  Pasta, soup)
  • Cut food into smaller pieces
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Avoid eating chewy, crunchy, or sticky foods
  • Self-massage your cheeks by rubbing in circles
  • If symptoms are acute/intense (ie.  sharp, very sore), apply ice over the jaw joint region for 10 minutes 3-4 times per day.  Wrap the ice pack in a paper towel or a t-shirt.  Do not use intense cold as the face tends to be very sensitive.  If symptoms increase, discontinue use.  Heat is not recommended for extremely acute cases.
  • If you are mildly sore, you can try applications of either ice or heat for 10 minutes each.  Another strategy is to try ice for 10 minutes, and then the heat pack for 10 minutes directly following.  Avoid intense cold or heat as the face tends to be very sensitive.  Do whatever you believe yields the most relief.  The success of these strategies can vary patient to patient.  If symptoms increase with any of the above strategies, discontinue use.
  • Discuss the possibility of wearing an oral splint at night with your dentist
  • If you are stressed, try to focus on not grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw.
  • Avoid biting your fingernails or chewing on a pencil.
  • Given the complexity of TMJ Dysfunction, and especially if symptoms do not resolve, follow up with your family doctor, ENT specialist, and/or dentist.
  • Consider the possibility of chiropractic therapy or physical therapy.

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