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Temporomandibular joint disorders - (TMJ)
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Temporomandibular joint disorders - (TMJ)

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Many treatments are available for TMJ disorders, though not all have proved beneficial. Most health care practitioners recommend beginning with the most conservative and noninvasive treatment.

Aside from asking you to avoid overusing your jaw, your doctor or dentist may suggest one or more of the following treatments:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications. To reduce inflammation and lessen pain, your physician or dentist may advise taking aspirin or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others). For severe pain and inflammation, corticosteroid drugs injected into the joint may provide relief.

  • Heat or cold. Appling warm, moist heat or ice to the side of your face may make you feel better.

  • Corrective dental treatment. Your dentist may improve your bite by balancing the biting surfaces of your teeth, replacing missing teeth, or replacing needed fillings or crowns.

  • Biteplate. If your TMJ is misaligned, your dentist may recommend a plastic biteplate (splint), worn over your teeth, to help align your upper and lower jaws.

  • Night guard appliance. If you grind your teeth in your sleep, a night guard appliance, which is a soft or firm device inserted over your teeth, can help prevent grinding and excessive wear.

  • Arthrocentesis. This procedure involves insertion of a needle so that fluid can be removed to clear out the joint.

  • Surgery. If the above approaches don't work, surgery to repair or remove the disk between your mandible and temporal bone may help, but the need for such surgery is rare.


In addition to medical treatments, try these self-care approaches to avoid overusing and inflaming your temporomandibular joint and surrounding muscles:

  • Eat a soft diet of foods that you don't have to chew at all or need to chew only minimally.

  • Don't chew gum.

  • Avoid sticky or chewy foods, such as caramel or tough meat.

  • When yawning, avoid opening your mouth too wide.


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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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