Self Care Instructions for TMD
- Rest the jaw muscles and joints.
- Soft food diet: Limit crunch and chewy foods such as nuts, carrots, hard breads and gum.
- Chew food more slowly.
- Cut foods into bite size pieces for easier chewing.
- For specific jaw joint instability, chew on the unaffected side. Chewing on the unaffected side provides more joint protection and stability.
- Limit using your front teeth to bite into foods as this compresses your jaw joint.
- Check for clenching, tensing, and tongue bracing habits. The rest position of the jaw is with the teeth apart and the tongue relaxed. The only time the teeth should touch is briefly during swallowing and randomly during chewing. Ideally, the teeth should be together as little as 4-8 minutes in a 24-hour day.
- Limit prolonged or extreme opening.
- Control your jaw with your hand during yawning.
- Check with your dentist before proceeding with other dental procedures, as dental appointments may be contraindicated until your jaw condition is managed.
- Apply cold to the painful area for 15-20 minutes for severe pain, new injuries and re-injuries. Also, drink cold or icy drinks to chill the inside of the jaw.
- Apply moist heat for 15-20 minutes for mild to moderate pain to increase circulation, relax muscles and promote healing.
- Massage the jaw and temple muscles.
- Avoid prolonged head positions where your head is forward, off to the side, or backward, such as looking up at someone.
- Avoid supporting your head by placing your chin in your hand.
- Sleep in a side-lying position with enough pillow support to maintain a level head and neck position. Hug a pillow for better upper body alignment. Place a pillow between your knees for better lower body balance and support.
- Participate in a relaxing activity each day.