Treatment Options for TMJ/Jaw Pain

By: Dr. Samantha Rawdin

Jaw or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain is a common complaint we receive from patients. Though there are many causes, finding a treatment option or combination of options is not always easy. What provides relief in one patient may not work for the next. However, there are many treatment options available- some conventional and some unconventional! Here’s a quick break down of ones that we recommend to our patients: 


This treatment might seem obvious, but avoiding hard or chewy foods is an easy first step for anyone with jaw pain. A soft diet combined with NSAIDs such as Advil/Motrin/Ibuprofen (if a patient can take them!) 3x daily for at least 3 days can help decrease inflammation in the TMJ and lead to relief.


Night guards are a good option for many patients who experience jaw pain, especially when the pain is worse in the morning (which would indicate that there’s grinding or clenching overnight). Night guards come in many shapes and sizes, but we typically recommend one that will keep the back teeth from touching, which reduces pressure on the jaw joint. However, for patients who notice that they grind or clench during the day, this is not always the best treatment option. 


This neurotoxin is definitely one that we often get questions about and it can be helpful for certain patients. Injections into the masseter muscle– the culprit in grinding and clenching– can decrease the amount of force available for use. However, the injections typically need to be redone every 3-6 months once it wears off and can be quite pricey since a large volume of the Botox is needed for adequate relief. 


Though a bit more outside of the box for traditional dental treatment, a referral to a physical or myofunctional therapist is a viable option for certain patients. Occasionally, stress in the TMJ can be triggered by tightness in other parts of the body. A licensed therapist can help figure out trigger points and relieve tension by teaching specific stretches or exercises. 


Also a non-traditional option, this branch of Eastern medicine can provide relief from TMJ and muscle pain. Again, regular visits tend to be required for sustained relief. 


Though this tends to be our last resort for patients since it is the most invasive, if there is severe destruction of tooth surfaces that is affecting the bite, then dental restorations may be required. Sometimes a few teeth will need to be treated, sometimes a full arch of teeth will need to be treated, and occasionally a whole mouth will need restoration. This determination is specific to each patient. 

If you experience jaw pain or have questions about any of these treatments, please let us know! We’d love to try and help.  To schedule a visit, call us today at 212.246.8700. Follow Gallery57Dental on Facebook here!

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156 W. 56th Street, Suite 903
New York, N.Y. 10019

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