Jaw Pain and TMD:
The majority of people will experience some sort of jaw pain or TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction) in their lifetime. We commonly have patients come into the office reporting pain in either their jaw muscles or jaw joint, known as the TMJ, right in front of the ear.
A common misperception is if you have TMD or jaw pain, you need a night guard to solve this problem. Night guards, which occasionally help with
TMD, are primarily to protect the teeth from wear and tear when someone grinds their teeth more than normal at night. Dr. Riegel says that the majority of TMD, that is not caused by an event such as trauma or disease and isn’t a chronic condition, can be solved with some simple steps.
Usually the pain that is experienced with TMD, whether muscular or joint in origin, is simply an overuse of the jaw. This can be caused by clenching because of stress, chewing too much gum or other non-functional habits.
In either case, the solution is generally to give the jaw rest from use. Dr. Riegel always encourages patients dealing with TMD to limit the amount of clenching they are doing while they are awake and to limit chewing to only food (no gum).
In more severe cases or when the first attempt doesn’t help, a patient may benefit from a soft food diet for 5-10 days along with 600mg of ibuprofen three times a day to reduce inflammation in the joint.
Maybe some of this information can help save you a trip to our office, though we’re always happy to see you or chat on the phone about any symptoms you’re having.