TMJ is a disorder affecting the temporomandibular joint that can cause pain, clicking, and swelling in the jaw and side of the face. It is an unpleasant feeling, which can lead many in search of a cure.
The good news about TMJ is that many people find relief through at-home treatments, which are currently the recommended treatment method by doctors. For those who do not find relief and prevention of their symptoms through at-home remedies, medical and surgical interventions are available to stop TMJ.
Table of Contents
- What Is TMJ Syndrome?
- What Are TMJ Symptoms?
- What Causes TMJ?
- How to Cure TMJ Permanently?
- How to Cure TMJ at Home?
- When to See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
What Is TMJ Syndrome?
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders involve a range of conditions that affect the joints of the jaw and its surrounding muscles and ligaments.
The temporomandibular joint is located on either side of the face, just below the ears, and connects the lower jawbone to the skull. TMJ syndrome occurs when the ligaments and muscles surrounding the TMJ become irritated or inflamed.
What Are TMJ Symptoms?
The temporomandibular joint plays an important role in actions such as speaking and chewing, and those with TMJ often experience symptoms that worsen with these actions.
Symptoms related to TMJ include:
- jaw pain
- difficulty opening the mouth wide
- pain in the neck or shoulders
- a tired feeling in the face
- clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
- swelling on the side of your face
- difficulty chewing
- ringing in the ears
- tooth pain
What Causes TMJ?
Doctors are not entirely sure what causes TMJ since it can differ from person to person. Some of the potential causes, though, include:
- teeth grinding/clenching
- injury to the jaw joints
- arthritis in the TMJ
- dislocation of the jaw joint
- an improper bite
How to Cure TMJ Permanently?
There are many ways to treat TMJ, with treatments ranging from more conservative options to medical interventions.
Depending on the potential cause behind your TMJ, certain medications may help cure it. For example, those who grind or clench their teeth may benefit from muscle relaxants, which can help to relax tight jaw muscles.
For those under a lot of stress, which is contributing to (or worsening) their TMJ, anti-anxiety medication can help.
Both of these medications are available by prescription only, though, requiring a doctor’s visit.
Corrective Dental Treatments
For some individuals, TMJ results from an improper bite. By undergoing corrective dental treatments such as replacing missing teeth or using bridges, braces, or crowns, you can return balance and proper alignment to the jaw.
With this treatment, a healthcare provider injects pain medication or anesthetic into the trigger points of the face, which are the tender muscles. This helps to relieve pain.
TMJ surgery is typically considered only as a last option once all other treatment options have been attempted, yet severe pain remains. There are three types of TMJ surgery, each addressing different TMJ symptoms and complexities.
- Arthrocentesis: A minor procedure performed in the office, often under local anesthesia. This type of surgery is recommended for those who experience a jaw that suddenly locks in the closed position. Additionally, it can help reduce TMJ-induced inflammation. For this procedure, sterile fluids are inserted into the affected joint, washing out the joint. In some cases, a surgical instrument may be used to remove scar tissue or dislodge an out-of-place disc.
- Arthroscopy: While under general anesthesia, a surgeon will make a small incision in front of the ear and insert a small, thin instrument that allows them to see the TMJ. Depending on your case, the surgeon may then realign the disc or remove inflamed tissue.
- Open-Joint Surgery: Also performed under general anesthesia, open-joint surgery differs from arthroscopy because a long incision is used, leading to longer recovery and increased discomfort. However, this surgery may be needed if there are tumors in or around the TMJ, if the bony structures making up the jaw joint are wearing away, or if there are severe bone chips or scarring in the joint.
How to Cure TMJ at Home?
Many at-home treatments can provide TMJ relief. In many cases, TMJ disorders will go away on their own, but the following solutions can help to provide additional care.
At-home treatments may not always cure TMJ, but they can provide relief from symptoms and prevent future occurrences so long as you continue following these guidelines.
Apply Ice Packs or Moist Heat
For those with acute pain, applying an ice pack to the temple and side of the face experiencing pain for 10 minutes can help to relieve the pain.
Additionally, moist heat should be applied after completing jaw exercises for about 5 minutes. These applications of ice and heat can be completed a few times a day.
Eat Soft Foods
Eating hard foods is harder for the jaw, which can cause a flare-up in pain for those with TMJ. By focusing on soft foods and avoiding hard, crunchy, and chewy foods, you can help your jaw get the break it needs.
Wear a Night Guard
For many people, their TMJ is due to teeth grinding, which is most common at night. To help prevent teeth grinding, night guards are very helpful.
A night guard consists of mouthpieces that fit over the upper or lower teeth. In addition to preventing teeth grinding, night guards also correct your bite, which can be another cause of TMJ pain.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) utilizes low-level electrical currents to relax the jaw joint and facial muscles. It can be completed at home or in a healthcare provider’s office.
When to See a Doctor?
Most cases of TMJ can be managed at home, but if you are still experiencing pain or discomfort, or if your jaw locks in the closed position, it is recommended to visit a doctor to discuss other treatment options.
Those who grind or clench their teeth should also visit a doctor to prevent TMJ syndrome and other dental problems such as bite issues or tooth erosion.
Get Help From an Online Doctor
With TMJ, it is always best to see a healthcare provider early for an evaluation. Meeting with a doctor is quick and convenient with the DrHouse app, where you can meet with an online doctor in as little as 15 minutes. During your appointment, you can discuss your symptoms and what might be causing your TMJ. Additionally, your doctor can write a prescription if needed to manage your symptoms.
TMJ disorder affects the temporomandibular joint, more commonly known as the jaw joint. It can lead to pain, inflammation, and difficulty opening and closing the jaw.
TMJ has many potential causes, which can impact the ideal treatment option. However, it is typically recommended to start with conservative treatments before considering surgical interventions. An online doctor is a great resource to discuss the symptoms and causes of TMJ and consider which treatment might be the most effective to finally cure TMJ.
- TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders). (2022). Retrieved 15 July 2022, from https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/tmd
- Mittal, N., Goyal, M., Sardana, D., & Dua, J. (2019). Outcomes of surgical management of TMJ ankylosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal Of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery, 47(7), 1120-1133. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcms.2019.03.029
- Wadhwa, S., & Kapila, S. (2008). TMJ disorders: future innovations in diagnostics and therapeutics. Journal of dental education, 72(8), 930–947; PMCID: PMC2547984.
- Di Paolo C, Costanzo GD, Panti F, Rampello A, Falisi G, Pilloni A, Cascone P, Iannetti G. Epidemiological analysis on 2375 patients with TMJ disorders: basic statistical aspects. Ann Stomatol (Roma). 2013 Mar 20;4(1):161-9. doi: https://doi.org/10.11138/ads.0161 . PMID: 23741538; PMCID: PMC3671807.
- Buescher J. J. (2007). Temporomandibular joint disorders. American family physician, 76(10), 1477–1482; PMID: 18052012.
- Fertout, A., Manière-Ezvan, A., Lupi, L., & Ehrmann, E. (2022). Management of temporomandibular disorders with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: A systematic review. Cranio : the journal of craniomandibular practice, 40(3), 217–228. https://doi.org/10.1080/08869634.2019.1687986