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Managing TMJ Through Self Care

Dr. Amy Khajavi DDS is a graduate of the International College of Cranio-Mandibular Orthopedics in Chicago, Illinois. After completing her dental degree as a dentist in Oregon, she continued an additional five more years of extensive studying which led her to received the prestigious Master of International College of Cranio-Mandibular Orthopedics specializing in jaws, full mouth reconstruction , occlusion, neuromuscular dentistry, sleep disorders, and TMJ/TMD diagnosis and treatment.

Managing TMJ Through Self Care
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Understand First How To Help Yourself

If you have pain when you chew or yawn, you know the discomfort of TMJ disorders. For the most part, people who have TMJ experience relatively mild symptoms, and they are likely to see an improvement in the few weeks or so using gentle at-home treatments. You may find relief with some or all of the following therapies, which you can manage at home.

Warm And Cold Wet Compresses

The TMJA conducted a survey inquiring about the most used at-home therapy to mitigate pain. According to their results, 65% of the respondents revealed that thermal therapy is their go-to form of pain intervention. The results included a combination of hot and cold compress preferences. They applied the compresses to the jaw, and of that number, 74% of those individuals acknowledged that the compresses effectively relieved their symptoms.

An imbalance can result in spasm, joint dysfunction, muscle fatigue, and also changes in teeth, which can trigger different symptoms, varied for each patient.

Moist Thermal Therapy (Heat Compress)

A moist heat compress is the most effective approach if you are experiencing a dull pain in the jaw muscles. It increases blood flow, providing relief and relaxation to help in restoring function to the jaw area. The best method of creating a heated compress is by soaking 2-4 washcloths in warm water. Depress the water from the cloth before applying it to the jaw area for around 20 minutes. You will need to repeat this step for continued heat during this time. Another approach to the same method is to wrap the towels around a hot water bottle or heat pack. Temperatures can vary, especially at the initial application. Considering, apply with caution.

Moist Thermal Therapy (Cold Compress)

When experiencing sharp pain, the primary desire and goal are to reduce the pain as quickly and effectively as possible. Applying a cold compress to the area for at least ten but no longer than 20 minutes helps reduce inflammation. The compress will act as a temporary numbing agent promoting comfort. However, to avoid the risk of frostbite, be sure to apply no more than 20 minutes at a time every two hours if needed. Ensure to wrap the compress in a cloth when applying to the area to avoid direct skin contact.

Your Food Choices Make A Difference

Choose your foods wisely, especially when experiencing the symptoms of TMJ. Foods that are softer and easier to chew are better options over crunchy foods that require added pressure to your jaw function.

A few other notes: avoid large chunks of food at once. Consider blending or cutting your food into small pieces.  Soups and pasta are manageable, and they are less likely to promote overworking the jaw muscle while you heal.

Over The Counter Pain MedicineIf you would like to add in over-the-counter pain medicines to help alleviate the pain on a short-term measure. Nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, often classified as (NSAIDs) can help with the pain. 

Routine Dental Care Scheduled dental maintenance is key to healthy teeth and gums. It also promotes better management of TMJ conditions and mitigates the risk of dental-related illness and disease, leading to more extensive dental issues.

When Should I Contact A Doctor?

If you have exhausted all your home therapy measures or do not affect symptom reduction, do not hesitate to reach out to your primary healthcare provider. Bringing your awareness to your symptoms allows other unrelated health issues to be ruled out.

As well, your physician, if needed, can provide a better responsive anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, or muscle relaxer to assist in symptom relief. Overall, the absolute best approach to managing TMJ is information. Understanding the symptoms and the available symptom relief measures will better respond to your needs. 

The results

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Frequently asked questions

Who Will Require A Full Mouth Reconstruction?
Patients who have broken teeth, infected gums, or feel jaw pain, which is causing discomfort and affecting oral health, should contact their dentist to see if they are a fit candidate for a full mouth reconstruction.
What Should I Expect In a Full Mouth Reconstruction?
Mouth Reconstruction after thoroughly examining a patient as suitability for the procedure is on a case-by-case basis. However, if you have two or more of the following dental issues, you may require a full mouth reconstruction procedure.

Missing teeth due to decay or trauma, Broken or fractured teeth, Worn out teeth due to acid or tooth grinding, Receding gums or gum disease, Continuing headache, and jaw and muscle pain.
Dr. Amy's Experience With Full Mouth Reconstruction
Dr. Khajavi has extensive experience in full mouth reconstruction and helping patients attain healthy, confident and dazzling smiles. Dr. Khajavi has won multiple awards as a dentist, holds advanced dental degrees and also offers other major dental procedures including cosmetic dentistry, treatment for neuromuscular problems, dental cleaning, and TMJ.

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