Published On: March 8, 2024By Categories: Blog, TMJ

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge that attaches your lower jaw to your skull. It allows you to move your jaw up and down and side to side so that you may speak, laugh, chew, or yawn. In other words, it gets used a lot. 

For one reason or another, some individuals experience aches and pains with this joint that can be disruptive to everyday tasks and activities. 

If you are suffering from TMJ pain, relief is available. 

What Does TMJ Pain Feel Like? 

While the TMJ is located directly in front of the ear on either side of your head, the pain it causes can radiate to other areas of the body. It may feel different for each person. And, often, it gets mistaken for a toothache, headache, or earache — rather than recognizing the true source of the pain. 

A few common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction include: 

  • Earaches or pain around the ear
  • Difficulty chewing 
  • Pain while chewing
  • Pain in the jaw 
  • Headaches
  • Stiff jaw
  • Locking of the joint
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Facial pain
  • Clicking sounds

Causes of TMJ Pain

The cause of TMJ pain is not always known, but an accident or injury that leads to trauma to the joint or the muscles surrounding it can result in TMJ disorder. A few other causes are listed below. 

  • Bruxism, such as the grinding of teeth or clenching of the jaw
  • Arthritis of the temporomandibular joint
  • Too much stress or tension 
  • A poor or misaligned bite

Relieving TMJ Pain at Home

While it is always best to see a dental professional if you are dealing with TMJ pain, there are a few things you can do at home to find relief when the pain is mild — or while you await your dental appointment. 

Relax Your Jaw Muscles 

When you clench your jaw or feel overly stressed, your jaw is not relaxed. This tension in the muscles can cause you pain. Take steps to relax your muscles, such as finding ways to reduce stress, practice Yoga, or engage in meditation or deep breathing exercises. 

Use a Hot or Cold Compress 

For pain and swelling, a cold compress will help. Using a barrier for the skin, apply the cold compress throughout the day for 15 minutes at a time. A heat compress is great for increasing blood flow and relaxing the muscles. This can provide relief, too, and should be used in the same manner. Alternate between the two if desired. 

Rest Your Jaw

If you have TMJ pain, avoiding certain things will give your jaw time to relax.

  • Don’t talk too much or yell
  • Avoid eating hard, crunchy, or chewy foods
  • Don’t chew gum
  • Try taking smaller bites of food

Treat Bruxism

If you have bruxism, try seeking treatment for it. Clenching the jaw and grinding teeth can contribute to TMJ pain. Sleeping with a mouthguard for bruxism may stop the pain entirely. 

Treatment for TMJ Pain

If you are dealing with TMJ pain, your dentist can help. After all, no one understands this joint better. 

Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)

Dental appliances such as mouthguards and splints are worn to reduce pain. Mouthguards are typically worn at night and, if you need additional treatment, splints can be used during the daytime. 

Prescription Medication

Medications are occasionally used to help relax the muscles, reduce inflammation, and bring relief to the patient. 


Jaw exercises and relaxation techniques also help. These can strengthen the jaw muscles and help to reduce tension in them. When performed regularly, they can provide much relief. 


Although most people find relief with the help of non-invasive treatments from their dentist, sometimes severe TMJ dysfunction may require surgical treatment options. 

TMJ Pain Relief at Creekview Dental

At Creekview Dental, we understand the impact of TMJ pain on your overall quality of life. That’s why we offer dental appliances and some creative solutions to relieve your pain — or prevent it from happening in the first place. 

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

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