Home Care For TMD Patients
TMD (temporomandibular disorder) problems can be more successfully treated with your help and cooperation. Following these tips will help to alleviate most symptoms.
1. Rest the muscles and joints: This will allow healing. Rest includes:
- Eating soft foods: Avoid crunchy and chewy foods like hard nuts, chips, carrots, and hard breads.
- No chewing gum.
- Avoiding clenching or tensing: Learn to say “teeth apart and jaw relaxed.
2. Avoid opening too wide: This protects the joints, preventing them from locking open and includes:
- Controlling Yawns: Limit how far your mouth opens during a yawn, so that you are forced to yawn against pressure.
- Avoiding General Anesthesia: When possible as there is a tendency to put pressure on the jaw joint.
- Eating in small bites.
3. Apply Cold: For severe pain, new injuries (less than 72 hours) and reinjured areas, apply cold for 5-10 minutes. Off and on for an hours. Twice a day.
4. Apply Moist Heat: To promote healing, apply moist heat for 10 minutes for mild to moderate pain to increase circulation and muscle relaxation 72 hours after the injury. You can heat a moist towel in the microwave for the source of moist heat.
5. Massage the jaw and temple muscles: This action stimulates circulation, relaxes muscles and decreases soreness. You can release the tension in the muscles using some simple exercises. One good one is to place your elbow on a table and put your fist under your chin. Force the jaw open against this constant pressure. This action forces the muscles of closure to relax. If you are having trouble opening, try to gently increase the amount of opening several times a day to stretch the muscles.
6. Maintain good posture: Avoid a forward head posture which may increase jaw and neck muscle activity and soreness.
7. Hold the phone: Do not cradle the phone. Cradling irritates the jaw and neck muscles.
8. Sleep on your side: Lie on your side with a pillow between your neck and shoulders and a soft support along the face and jaw.
9. Exercise regularly: Exercise 3-4 times a week for 20-30 minutes. Choose low impact type exercise to minimize pressure on the joints.
10. Practice stress reduction: Strive to reduce the stress on your life. Stress may cause an increase in clenching and grinding.
11. Eat well: Good nutrition promotes joint and muscle healing. Certain foods, such as those containing sugar and caffeine, may increase muscle tension and increase the clenching and grinding habits. These foods are worse if consumed later in the day.
12. Wear your night guard/Bite appliance as directed: You may be able to function well with only nightly use. If symptoms are more severe, you may at first need to wear the bite appliance around the clock until your symptoms subside.
13. Take medications as prescribed: Initially, we may give you a prescription for a muscle relaxant to temporarily decrease muscle tension and break the pain cycle. Take the medication only as prescribed. An anti-inflammatory drug such as ADVIL might be recommended to help with the pain and decrease the inflammation. Do not take this medication if you have any aspirin allergies or stomach problems.
PLEASE NOTE: If your symptoms worsen instead of getting better, please inform us immediately.