Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD, is a painful condition that causes chronic pain in the jaw area. Everyone that suffers from this disorder experiences pain in a different area and in a different way. Some people suffer from jaw pain while others suffer from pain in the neck, head, or ears. Some people hear a popping sound when they open and close their jaw and others just have pain. The common denominator in any of these types of pain is the presence of TMD. While there is not a cure for this disorder right now, there are many things you can do at home to alleviate the pain.
A major factor in a TMD flare up is stress. This is why it is important to practice stress reducing techniques at home, whether yoga, meditation or any other method that helps you to unwind. In addition, if you grind your teeth at night, you might be a good candidate for a mouth guard to be worn while you sleep. In severe cases, biofeedback or acupuncture are sometimes recommended in order to help alleviate the stress, which reduces the tension in the jaw, and decreases the amount of pain you feel.
Altering your Diet
No one wants to permanently alter their diet, but when you are dealing with the pain of TMD, it is sometimes necessary. In order to see if a change in your diet helps, it is best to stick to a soft foods diet for a week or two to see if the pain diminishes. This means avoiding excessively crunchy, chewy, or tough foods. Even foods like apples or meat should be avoided or at the very least, cut into very small pieces before consuming. In place of these foods, you should focus on soft foods, such as soup, yogurt, cheese, and mashed potatoes. Any foods that do not require a great deal of chewing will give your jaw the rest that it needs to decrease your pain.
During the period of time that you are altering your diet to give your jaw some well-deserved rest, you should alternate heat and ice therapy to help to reduce the swelling and minimize the pain. If your symptoms become unbearable or altering your diet does not help, it is best to come in for an appointment to let us see what is causing the TMD, allowing us to help you find some relief from this painful condition.