Woman touching her jaw in front of doctor - Idaho Falls orthodontist

My Jaw Hurts: When Should I Talk To My Doctor?

Jaw pain is more common than you think. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 8 people have may have some form of a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, while being most prevalent in women. The TMJ is the jaw joint that allows for you to be able to speak, sing, chew, etc. Thus, when your TMJ is inflamed and causing you pain, it becomes much more difficult to perform these everyday tasks. Additionally, prolonged TMJ pain can cause headaches and even migraines in some patients. But many people are unsure of when they should contact their doctor about TMJ pain in Idaho Falls. We’ll explore when you should see your doctor or a TMJ specialist to discuss treatment options and in what circumstances lifestyle changes and at-home treatments are better suited. 

If you would like more information about TMJ pain or TMJ disorder, call Comfort Sleep Solutions, we are more than happy to answer all of your questions. 

TMJ Pain: When It’s Time To Call Your Doctor

While TMJ pain is not pleasant in the least, it is not uncommon for the jaw pain to go away by itself within a few week or months. However, for some people, this pain never leaves. Constant TMJ pain is not “normal.” If you are experiencing long periods of TMJ pain, you should contact your TMJ specialist at Comfort Sleep Solutions to schedule a consultation. At your initial consultation, one of our specialists will perform a comprehensive examination to better help you treat your TMJ pain in Idaho Falls. At this examination, we will be able to better understand what is causing your TMJ pain. TMJ disorders can be caused by several factors, but some of the most common include:

  • Tooth Grinding (Bruxism) 
  • Jaw Clenching 
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Genetics
  • Jaw Injury

If your TMJ is caused by teeth grinding or jaw clenching, your TMJ specialist in Idaho Falls may recommend a customized mouthguard as part of your treatment plan. Additionally, for patients who suffer from TMJ pain due to osteoarthritis, we may prescribe steroid injections to reduce the pain and swelling associated with TMJ disorder and pain. 

Very rarely is surgery required to treat TMJ disorders, however, in some extreme cases, it is a viable option. Before “passing go and going straight to surgery”, it’s important to discuss your options with your doctor and to try treatments and lifestyle changes before having surgery on the jaw. 

TMJ Pain: Find Relief At Home

pen pointing to jaw bone on skull - TMJ pain Idaho Falls

If you’re a person who only experiences TMJ pain now and then, you may be able to treat the problem at home, without intervention from a doctor. However, it should be noted, that at the first sign of TMJ pain you should contact a TMJ specialist to schedule a consultation. Even if you are able to treat the pain yourself at home, it’s crucial to understand what may be causing the pain. Speaking with a professional also helps to eliminate or to determine whether there is something else going on, such as an underlying condition. 

Part of treating TMJ pain includes at-home care and some temporary lifestyle changes. We suggest the following therapies to alleviate some of the pain and reduce swelling as well as to help return mobility to the jaw:

  • Ice – Without placing ice directly on the skin, apply an icepack to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes. Ice can help to reduce pain and swelling. 
  • Moist Heat – To improve mobility, apply a wrapped hot pack or warm towel to the jaw area for 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • Over The Counter Pain Medication – Anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication, such as ibuprofen can provide temporary relief. 
  • Soft Foods– When your jaw is inflamed it can be challenging to chew crunchy or hard foods and even may be difficult to stretch your mouth wide enough to eat foods such as apples. When your jaw is causing you pain, try and stick with softer foods that don’t require much chewing so that your jaw may rest. 
  • Jaw Exercises – Exercising your jaw a few minutes a day can help to strengthen the muscles and joint and will increase mobility. You can find a list of helpful, gentle exercises, here

If you are experiencing TMJ pain in Idaho Falls, whether it be minor or major, contact Comfort Sleep Solutions today. We can help you find relief by finding the right TMJ treatment for you.