TMD Self-Help Recommendations

Self-treatments include the following:

  • Minimize wide opening and soften your diet. ¬†Avoid hard, chewy foods, especially foods that unnecessarily tax your jaws, such as gum, jerky, etc.
  • Apply moist heat with a warm wet washcloth, wet heating pad, or hot water bottle. Ice or packaged frozen food wrapped in a washcloth may also be applied to the painful area. Use whichever (hot or cold) provides the greatest relief.
  • Take an over the counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).
    • The adult ibuprofen dose is two to four tablets (200 mg each) three times a day, and the adult Aleve dose is two tablets (220 mg each) twice a day.
    • Children less than 12 years old can take Pediprofen. A lower ibuprofen adult dose of one to two tablets two to three times a day may also be taken.
    • Stop taking these medications if you notice any stomach problems such as heartburn, upset stomach, diarrhea, or bloody/dark stools.
    • Patients who are allergic to an anti-inflammatory medication, including aspirin, should not take the aforementioned medications. In such instances, substitute Tylenol (acetaminophen) one to two tablets two to four times a day.

I recommend seeking immediate help for the following circumstances:

  • Worsening symptoms, increasing pain, locking, trismus, etc.
  • The inability to open your mouth all the way
  • Frequent open or closed jaw locking
  • Obvious facial swelling or a facial asymmetry
  • Unmanageable pain
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together
  • Persistent symptoms

I recommend observing the following problems and seeking care if they persist:

  • Jaw clicking and popping without pain or dysfunction, i.e. trismus, locking, or dietary limitations
  • New onset of tolerable pain

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