How Do You Relieve TMJ Pain

How Do You Relieve TMJ Pain?


Are you experiencing TMJ pain? You will most likely feel it in your jaw or the side of your face in front of your ears or in the temple region of your head. It may feel like a dull ache or sharp pain when you open and close your mouth. If you feel this kind of pain, you may be suffering from TMJ disorder

What is TMJ disorder? 

TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, the location on each side of your face where your lower jaw connects to your head. This hinge-type joint is prone to misalignment and inflammation from a variety of causes. When the joint becomes strained in some way, it can be painful and result in limited range of motion in your jaw. 

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

The following symptoms may indicate that you have TMJ disorder: 

  • Pain in your jaw
  • Headaches
  • Limited range of motion in your jaw
  • Jaw locked shut 
  • Popping or clicking sound when chewing or opening and closing your mouth
  • Ear pain
  • Neck pain 

Treatment for TMJ Disorder 

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, there are ways to get relief. 

Home Treatments

These treatments can be self-applied at home: 

  • Apply ice to the jaw and side of the face where the pain resonates. This reduces inflammation. 
  • Take anti-inflammatory pain medication, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).   
  • Rest your jaw as much as possible. Eat a soft diet. Avoid talking, singing, yawning, or any excessive movement of your jaw. 

Professional Treatments

If the above home treatments do not provide relief, you may need professional treatment from your dentist. Your dentist may provide any of the following: 

  • A bite splint to realign the joint. 
  • TENS, which stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation, is a device that delivers a low voltage electrical current to relax the muscles. 
  • MLS Laser Therapy (multiwave locked system laser) reduces inflammation, swelling, and pain. 

Can TMJ Disorder Be Cured? 

You can get permanent relief from TMJ pain with the right treatment. The key is to get to the source of the inflammation and stop it from occurring. For some people this may mean wearing a mouthguard at night to prevent teeth grinding and clenching your jaw. In severe cases surgical reconstruction of the jaw may be necessary. We only revert to surgery if no other treatment has been effective or if the damage to the joint is significant. 

Who Treats TMJ Disorder? 

If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder, you may be unsure of what medical professional to call. In the case of TMJ you should contact a dentist who provides TMJ treatment. Dentists have extensive knowledge of the structure and anatomy of the mouth, including the jaw, making them uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat TMJ disorder. 

Frequently Asked Questions About TMJ Disorder 


What causes TMJ disorder? 

Your temporomandibular joint may become inflamed due to excess strain from teeth grinding or chewing something particularly hard. It can also be caused by an injury, such as a blow to the jaw or side of the face. 

How can I tell the difference between TMJ and an ear infection? 

Sometimes TMJ disorder causes ear pain because the joint is so close to the opening of the ear, that the pain resonates like an ear infection. If you have other symptoms of TMJ disorder besides ear pain, then it is more likely due to TMJ. 

Why Choose San Francisco Dental Wellness? 

We believe that oral health is closely tied to overall wellness. Our approach to TMJ treatment is to relieve the muscle tension and inflammation that is the root of your symptoms, not just prescribe pain medication to manage your symptoms. The ultimate goal is for you to have long term relief of your TMJ symptoms. 

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ disorder, call 415-781-1944 or contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment. And Dr. Chui is the clinical director at the San Francisco VA Medical Center where he provides effective treatment to veterans suffering from complex TMJ disorders.