Treatment for TMJ Disorders

Treatment for temporomandibular joint disorders varies and depends on the cause and severity of the condition. TMJ treatments range from conservative self-care techniques to surgery.

TMJ usually resolves with conservative treatment, including the following:

  • Eat soft foods to avoid strenuous chewing for two weeks.
  • Use an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever as directed.
  • Avoid gum chewing and habits such as nail biting and biting on pens, pencils, or other items.
  • Maintain good posture when sitting (e.g., at a computer) or talking on the phone for long periods.
  • Make sure that your workstation is ergonomically correct.
  • Apply warm compresses to the jaw area for 20 minutes, 1–2 times each day.
  • Gently stretch your jaw muscles for 5 minutes, 3–5 times each day for 2–4 weeks.

Relaxation techniques can help improve sleep and reduce nighttime jaw clenching or teeth grinding (bruxism) that often is associated with TMJ disorders. The following techniques may help improve symptoms of TMJ:

  • Exercise every day. (Talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program.)
  • Listen to a tape or CD of a guided relaxation method, such as progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, or meditation.
  • Enroll in beginner yoga, tai chi, or other mind-body discipline classes.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 18 Aug 2009

Last Modified: 06 Oct 2015