Rest Your Jaw
Most TMJ is linked to muscle soreness. Sometimes all your muscles need is a break, and they will feel better. To rest your jaw, you can eat a soft diet, cut down on talking, and try to reduce stress.
A soft diet means avoiding hard and/or crunchy foods like carrots, chips, celery, steak, and more. It doesn’t mean you have to eat a pureed diet, nor does it mean you have to switch to a liquid diet. Just try to stick to the softer side of your normal diet. Make sure you’re still getting a balanced diet–don’t just eat junk food. Ice cream is comforting occasionally, but it shouldn’t be the main staple in your diet.
When reducing talking, let people know why you feel you have to reduce time spent talking. This helps smooth things over, as people can get offended if you suddenly stop wanting to talk. People should understand if you explain the situation to them. If you have to talk for a special work event like a presentation or conference, see if you can postpone or recruit a substitute.
Stress commonly turns into jaw tension. People often clench their jaws when they get upset, though they may not always know it. If you have high stress levels at home or work, try to find ways to relax. It is not always easy to reduce stress. If you find you can’t do it on your own, seek help from family, friends, or a professional.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are common, and they’re often people’s first solution when they experience bodily pain. All OTC medications are appropriate for treating TMJ-related pain. However, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) are often the best for TMJ, which can include significant inflammation. However, people also do well with acetaminophen.
There are some concerns, however. OTC drugs are relatively safe, but that does not mean they are without risks. Make sure you understand these risks. Also make sure you are following the recommended dosage, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
Hot or Cold Packs
People often ask: Is heat or cold better for TMJ pain? The truth is that it depends on the cause of your pain. Heat, especially moist heat, is best for muscle pain. Cold is best to numb all pain, and helps to reduce inflammation.
If you know that your jaw pain and other TMJ symptoms are linked to muscle soreness, then a hot pack is the best option. However, if you are unsure, cold might be a better option. Not only does cold reliably reduce discomfort, it helps control inflammation. Heat, on the other hand, can increase inflammation. Fortunately, neither is liable to cause significant harm (unless you use packs that are too hot or too cold or use them for too long without insulation).