Jaw Pain, TMJ and TMD

Jaw pain is a debilitating problem that affects how you eat and speak. Causes of jaw pain include temporomandibular joint and muscle diseases (TMD), sinus problems, cluster headaches, heart attack, terminal neuralgia and toothache.


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that connects the jaw bone to the skull’s temporal bones. It’s located in front of the left and right ears. The temporomandibular joint is crucial for moving the jaw upwards, downwards and sideways as you talk, yawn and eat.

Unfortunately, temporomandibular joint and muscle disease can affect TMJ and the surrounding structures. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders usually affect the jaw joints, muscles and ligaments. The leading causes of TMD include trauma, arthritis, prolonged wear and tear and improper biting.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder symptoms such as pain and discomfort in the jaw are long-lasting. In addition, they are worsened by chewing, clenching, teeth grinding and swallowing.

Best Practices for Pain Relief

Jaw pain is a serious medical condition that limits how you can move the temporomandibular joint. Its complications are diverse and life-threatening. Therefore, it’s vital to have immediate intervention to help relieve the pain and lead a healthy and comfortable life.

Generally, management of pain depends on the cause of the jaw pain. However, there are life saving techniques that relieve pain even without you going for surgery, and they include the following:

Maintain the resting position of your jaw

Muscle movement within the temporomandibular joint causes jaw pain. Therefore, to relieve the TMJ pain, you need to limit wide jaw movements like singing, yelling, yawning and chewing. The temporal muscles need to be relaxed as much as possible. 

Of course, you should eat something, but you have to avoid tough, crunchy, chewy food like apples or chewing gum.

Correct your posture

Correct posture is crucial for avoiding pain and recovering quickly from Temporomandibular Joint Disorders. Having back support and good upright posture will help. Importantly, you should be turned frequently to avoid the development of pressure sores.

The recommended exercise for seated or upright patients with jaw pain involves raising chest bones, pulling the shoulders backward and gently squeezing the shoulder blades to straighten the back muscles.

Get a good night’s sleep

Sleep is important for your mental and physical well-being. Use pillows for head support and sleep on your back to minimize TMJ pain. Avoid sleeping on the sides, abdomen or placing a hand under the jawbones.

Use a hot or cold compress

Ice packs are essential to help you reduce jaw pain and swelling. On the other hand, hot compressions increase blood supply and relax the jaw muscles. Apply hot or cold packs on the jaw for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Reduce stress

Stress management techniques such as meditation and yoga help relax the temporomandibular joint and loosen the muscles. Yoga exercises exert little stress on the muscles. Therefore, it’s an excellent activity to relax facial muscles and ease your mind.

Exercise your jaw

Jaw exercises increase the mobility of the temporomandibular joint. If you keep them immobile for long, they might become stiff. Exercises that relieve jaw pain include jaw stretching, strengthening and relaxation exercises.

Take notice of bad habits

Avoid activities that increase your tendency to get temporomandibular joint disorders. Examples include nail-biting, resting the jaw bone on your hand, grinding teeth and clenching the jaw muscles or teeth.

You need to study your daily pattern and discuss it with your doctor to know if you’re at risk of developing the temporomandibular joint disorder.

Avoid certain activities and foods

Forceful opening of the mouth will make your jaw widen to bad extremes. Therefore, always try to avoid yelling, yawning, taking giant bites of food and chewing hard food.

Surgical Options for TMJ Pain

Home jaw pain relief techniques might not be enough for some people. In that case, maxillofacial surgeons can operate on the patient to treat TMD and stop the persistent TMJ pain.