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Temporomandibular Disorders: Ways to Ease Pain

Topic Overview

If you have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), you can try ice or heat to relieve your pain.

Put either an ice pack or a warm, moist cloth on your jaw for 15 minutes several times a day. You can try switching back and forth between moist heat and cold. Gently open and close your mouth while you use the ice pack or heat.

Apply moist heat to your jaw to relieve sore, tense muscles.

  • Dip a towel in hot tap water or warm a damp towel in a microwave oven. You may also use a hot pack, electric moist heating unit, or a heating pad set on low or medium.
  • Apply moist heat (no warmer than bath water) to your jaw muscles 3 to 4 times a day for 15 minutes each time.
  • If moist heat alone does not bring relief, alternate moist heat and an ice pack. Apply each for 5 to 8 minutes.

Do not use heat if you have had an injury to the jaw, you have difficulty sensing pain, or you have poor blood circulation.

Apply ice to your jaw if there is swelling, such as from a recent injury.

  • Apply ice 3 or 4 times a day for 15 minutes each time. Do this for the first 3 days.
  • After 3 days, apply moist heat, following the same schedule, for 1 week.

Use aspirin or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (such as Motrin or Advil) to reduce jaw swelling and pain.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
Last Revised January 11, 2012

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