Seeking treatment for jaw joint disorder from a qualified and competent dentist is essential for full recovery. The best dentist to solve Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJD) would have experience in evaluating jaw-to-bite relationships, occlusal equilibration treatment procedures (adjusting bite of upper and lower teeth) and use of intra-oral appliances.
However, you are likely to experience quite some pain while awaiting treatment. The TMJ Association, Ltd. offers some useful solutions that give temporary relief during that wait period.
Applying Moist Heat
You can either use a heat pack or make your own home-made version (simply put hot water inside a bottle and wrap it inside a warm, moist towel). Apply this heat pack on the side of your face and on your temple. Do this in 10-minute intervals. The moist heat in such an application will help reduce pain while improving function of your temporomandibular joint. Only take care not to apply too much heat, which will lead to more harm than good.
Applying Ice Packs
Although providing directly opposite conditions to heat packs, an ice pack can also serve to give temporary pain relief. It serves a three-fold function of decreasing inflammation, numbing pain and promoting healing of the affected area. Only make sure never to apply the ice pack directly onto your skin. Instead, wrap it in a clean cloth. Just as with the heat packs, only apply it in 10 to 15 minute intervals.
Limiting Jaw Movements
This is a no-brainer when it comes to pain relief. Any movements of your jaws would obviously lead to more pain. Therefore, avoid unnecessary movements of your jaws, which includes yawning. When an unavoidable yawn does occur, you can reduce the painful repercussions by supporting your chin using your fist during the yawn. This will prevent damage to the temporomandibular joint, while preventing the dreadful locking of your jaw while open.
Various things to avoid include gum chewing, jaw clenching and cradling the telephone (likely to irritate both jaw and neck muscles).Try to keep your lips relaxed and also keep your teeth apart. A less obvious aspect is the application of pressure on your jaw, especially when you sleep on your side. Therefore, while sleeping on your side, make sure to use pillow support between your shoulder and neck.
You can enhance the benefits of limited jaw movement by combining it with various relaxation techniques. Through deep and slow breathing, you can achieve deeper relaxation of the jaw muscles, as well as modulating pain sensations. Massage, yoga and meditation would be quite helpful at this time.
Controlled Jaw Exercises
This may sound contrary to the previous recommendation to limit jaw movement; however, the types of movements that can alleviate pain are not just any ordinary movements. Such movements are best instituted by a physical therapist, who will evaluate your condition and plan an appropriate set of exercises to enhance healing and increase jaw mobility. In fact, a 2010 study by the Tokyo Medical and Dental University revealed that therapeutic exercises contribute to earlier jaw function recovery compared to splints.
Of course, you cannot do without food, despite the issue with the port of entry to your digestive system. Therefore, try to limit your diet to soft foods, while avoiding crunchy, hard and chewy foods.