TMD: Simple Remedies to Try at Home

At Prosthodontics of Princeton, your local prosthodontist and Princeton dentist’s office, we provide quality, comprehensive dental care to our patients in a safe and professional environment. We specialize in reconstructive and cosmetic dentistry and also treat patients with symptoms of TMD, or Temperomandibular Joint Disorder.


What is TMD?

TMD is also referred to as TMJ syndrome. This is a general term referring to acute or chronic pain in the muscles of the jaw and/or inflammation of the tempormandibular joint, which is the joint that connects the mandible to the skull. A person with TMD may have pain in the jaw in front of the ear. This pain can spread to the cheek, the ear itself and to the temple. It can be difficult to move the jaw due to pain or because of a tight feeling you may have. With TMD, sometimes clicking noises can be heard coming from the jaw joint when chewing or moving the mouth.

TMD Signs to Watch For

Some symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain in the chewing muscles or jaw joint
  • Pain in the jaw, neck or face
  • Stiffness in the jaw muscles
  • A jaw that locks or has limited movement
  • Painful clicking, popping or grating of the jaw joint
  • Changes in how the upper teeth meet the lower teeth
  • Frequent headaches

Home Remedies for TMD

TMD can simply be a nuisance or it can be something which negatively affects your life. When it is less severe, biting down on hard food can result in pain through the jaw joint. But if the TMD is severe it can be debilitating as the jaw joint can slip out of position resulting in pain and not being able to open your mouth wide.

TMD affects millions of Americans. If you have jaw pain, stiffness in the jaw muscles or a jaw that locks or has limited movement, you know the discomfort of TMD. Here are a few home remedies you can try which may help you.

Give Your Mouth a Rest

Do not chew on tough foods or chewing gum. If you have a bad habit such as biting on pencils, break that habit.

Apply Cold and Heat

If you feel occasional sharp pain in the jaw joint, apply a cold pack. This will numb the nerves and dull the pain. Do not leave a cold pack on your jaw for longer than twenty minutes as doing so could result in frostbite. If you have dull, steady, aching pain rather than sharp pain, heat is better than cold. This will increase blood flow to the area and relax the jaw.

Massage the Area

Massaging the areas around your jaws can provide relief and improve blood flow. Several times a day, open your mouth and rub the muscles by the ears near your jaw joints. Put your finger on any sore area and swirl it around while pressing gently until the muscles relax. You can also massage the muscles on the sides of your neck as doing so can reduce tension that contributes to jaw pain.

Improve Your Eating Habits

Avoid eating extremely crunchy and chewy foods. Steer clear of foods like beef jerky, hard breads, apples and carrots. Do not take large bites but rather cut your food into small portions so that your jaw does not have to overwork.

Change Sleeping Position

If you sleep on your side or stomach, change to sleeping on your back. When you sleep on your side, you are more likely to grind your teeth and reinforce bad jaw, neck and shoulder alignment.

Learn to Relax

Relaxation is an effective treatment for TMD. It\’s important to get into a relaxed mode before bedtime. Instead of using this last part of the evening to do chores, instead read a good book, take a warm bath or practice meditative breathing. When you are relaxed before sleeping you will be less likely to grind your teeth or tense your jaw. This can result in you feeling less pain when waking up in the morning.

Contact Your Local Princeton, NJ Dentist

If you are still experiencing symptoms after trying these home remedies for a couple of weeks, contact our Princeton, NJ dentist office so that we can schedule an appointment for you. Dr. Steven C. Isaacson and Dr. Suzanne B. Reinhardt have the educational background and experience needed to properly diagnose and treat you in our state-of-the-art office environment.