Pain in the TMJ, the temporomandibular joint where your lower jaw connects to your skull, is a common occurrence. If you have pain or limited range of motion in the jaw, you most likely have TMJ disorder. TMJ pain can affect your everyday life, making it difficult to eat and talk. It can prevent you from getting the nutrition you need for health and wellness.
Luckily this condition is treatable through a variety of methods. If you’re wondering how long your TMJ pain will last, it’s time to talk to your dentist. The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you will find relief.
Treatment for TMJ Disorder
Treatment options for TMJ disorder vary based on the severity of your case. We always recommend starting with the least invasive, most simple treatments and work up to more invasive treatments if necessary.
- Step 1: Home remedies. The first treatment options should begin at home. Apply ice to the jaw to reduce swelling and inflammation. Take over the counter pain medication (anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen is best) and eat soft foods to avoid chewing. Try to minimize talking as much as possible to allow your jaw to rest.
- Step 2: Medication and injections. The next step is to see your dentist for professional treatment. You may be prescribed a stronger pain reliever and/or receive a steroid injection to promote healing. You may also be given a bite splint to wear that provides relief of pressure and keeps your jaw in proper alignment.
- Step 3: Surgery. If none of the above treatments provide you with relief, you may need surgery to reconstruct the joint and remove damaged tissue. This is only a last resort if nothing else works to treat your pain and other symptoms.
How Soon Will I Get Relief?
The amount of time that passes before you experience permanent relief of your pain depends on the severity of your case. If home remedies are all you need, you can experience relief in as little as a few hours to a few days, and up to a week.
Pain persisting longer than a week should be addressed by your dentist. If you receive prescription pain medication or injections from your dentist, your pain should quickly subside and stay away permanently in a few days to a week.
TMJ disorder that is severe enough to require surgery could take longer for you to feel permanent relief of your pain. You may have tenderness in the jaw when you move it for a week or two, but after you heal from your surgery you should have no more pain.
How Can TMJ Disorder Be Prevented?
You can prevent TMJ disorder by avoiding behaviors that tend to cause it, such as:
- Avoid grinding your teeth. People who grind or clench their teeth at night or during the day are more likely to develop TMJ disorder from the excess pressure it puts on the jaw. Wearing a mouthguard while you sleep helps absorb the pressure from grinding your teeth.
- Don’t chew gum constantly. Constantly chewing gum can overwork your jaw and cause inflammation in the TMJ.
- Don’t bite hard foods or ice. Biting or chewing hard, chewy foods or ice can put excessive pressure on the TMJ that can lead to pain.
- Don’t use your teeth to open things. Never use your teeth for anything other than eating food. Don’t use your teeth to open containers or remove tags that are difficult. You can damage your teeth as well as your TMJ.
Savannah Dental Solutions provides TMJ Pain Relief. We work hard to earn the trust of every patient by helping you to achieve and maintain healthy teeth and gums for a great smile. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.