woman laying in bed rubbing her headAre you searching for home remedies to alleviate your TMJ pain? The TMJ or Temporomandibular joint, and the surrounding network of muscles make it possible to open and close your mouth, eat, and chew food. Anything that affects the normal function of this network may cause pain or that annoying popping and cracking.

Your first step in treating jaw pain should be a thorough exam from your dentist to determine how serious and what is causing your pain. Depending on the results of the exam, your treatment plan may include a home remedy. The following home remedies that have worked quite well for some people who experience TMJ pain.

  1. Avoiding hard crunchy foods, such as, carrots, celery sticks, nuts, and hard candies and switching to a soft food diet may help. Excess stress on your muscles and TMJ caused by eating hard foods is a common culprit.
  2. Changing bad habits such as chewing too much gum, biting your nails, chewing on pen tops, and spending too much time looking down at your phone. These can stress your jaw as much as eating crunchy foods.
  3. Exercises, stretches and a massage regimen developed by your dentist to alleviate pain often help. An exercise program may include stretching your facial muscles and relaxation techniques, as some pain is caused by tight muscles that spasm, causing pain. The goal is gentle stretching. If an exercise causes you pain, stop doing it right away and talk to a dentist.
  4. Alternating hot and cold packs for 15-20 minutes each help with pain. This home remedy has been used for decades to treat a variety of pain issues. Cold packs always work to control pain and reduce inflammation. However, heat is best for sore muscles. Apply heat mostly to muscles and not to the joint–excess heat can increase inflammation.
  5. Managing the stress in your life and learning relaxation techniques will help with relaxing our jaw muscles and may help you relax during extremely stressful situations.
  6. Changing sleep positions can sometimes help with TMJ. Sleeping on your stomach puts stress on your jaw. Sleeping on your back can worsen sleep apnea, which can make you clench your jaw at night. Side sleeping is easier on your jaw, if you have a good pillow.
  7. Anti-inflammatory medications recommended by your dentist to relieve pain and are often an effective home remedy.

Done properly, home remedies can safely control the symptoms of TMJ.

When to Seek Professional Care?

Many people have transient TMJ that doesn’t need professional care. How can you tell if your TMJ needs professional attention? Watch for these warning signs:

  • Your jaw locks in place–never try to force your jaw open or closed
  • Symptoms don’t respond to home care after a week
  • Symptoms worsen under home care
  • You experience multiple bouts of TMJ

If home care doesn’t resolve symptoms or makes them worse, then it’s time to get professional care for your TMJ.

Learn More

TMJ is a complex disorder that often requires the assistance of a qualified dentist. If you would like to learn more about TMJ, call your Los Gatos TMJ Dentist Dr. Nancy Nehawandian at (408) 354-5600. She will help you to get a glimpse of what could be causing your TMJ pain so that you can get the treatment you need.