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Scientific News: Sleep and TMD

Dr. Anne Sanders was kind enough to write the following synopsis of a recent study on sleep and TMD.     A recent study of the OPPERA group reported in The Journal of Pain, sheds new light on the understanding of poor sleep in relation

TMJA Office Update - Spring 2016

After President Obama submits his budget to Congress, the work of Representatives and Senators begins. It is at this time that we tell our elected officials what YOU, TMJ patients, need to have addressed. The past two months have been busy ones outsid

National Pain Study Released

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released the National Pain Strategy, outlining the federal government's first coordinated plan for reducing the burden of chronic pain that affects millions of Americans. Developed by a diverse team of experts from around the nation, the National Pain Strategy is a road map toward achieving a system of care in which all people receive appropriate, high quality and evidence-based care for pain.

New Safety Warnings Added to Prescription Opioid Drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a consumer warning regarding several safety issues with the entire class of opioid pain medicines. The new safety risks include potentially harmful interactions with numerous other medications, problems with the adrenal glands, and decreased sex hormone levels. The FDA is requiring companies to make changes to the opioid medication labels warning consumers of these risks as described below.

Unclear Results of Botulinum Toxin Therapy for TMD Pain

Increasingly, clinicians, research scientists like myself, and advocates at The TMJ Association are asked, "What about Botox® therapy for treatment of my painful muscles? Does it help?"

HELP YOURSELF FIRST - REMEMBER LESS IS BEST!

  • Jun 22, 2014

Often jaw problems resolve on their own in several weeks to months. If you have recently experienced TMJ pain and/or dysfunction, you may find relief with some or all of the following therapies.

  • Moist Heat. Moist heat from a heat pack or a hot water bottle wrapped in a warm, moist towel can improve function and reduce pain. Be careful to avoid burning yourself when using heat.
  • Ice. Ice packs can decrease inflammation and also numb pain and promote healing. Do not place an ice pack directly on your skin. Keep the pack wrapped in a clean cloth while you are using it. Do not use an ice pack for more than 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Soft Diet. Soft or blended foods allow the jaw to rest temporarily. Remember to avoid hard, crunchy, and chewy foods. Do not stretch your mouth to accommodate such foods as corn on the cob, apples, or whole fruits.
  • Over the-Counter Analgesics. For many people with TMJ Disorders, short-term use of over-the-counter pain medicines or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief from jaw discomfort. When necessary, your dentist or doctor can prescribe stronger pain or anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, or antidepressants to help ease symptoms.
  • Jaw Exercises. Slow, gentle jaw exercises may help increase jaw mobility and healing. Your health care provider or a physical therapist can evaluate your condition and suggest appropriate exercises based on your individual needs.  A recent study found therapeutic jaw exercises bring earlier recovery of jaw function compared to splints! Click here to read the specific jaw exercises used in this study.
  • Relaxation Techniques. Relaxation and guided imagery can be helpful in dealing with the pain that accompanies TMJ dysfunction. Deep, slow breathing enhances relaxation and modulates pain sensations. Some have found yoga, massage, and meditation helpful in reducing stress and aiding relaxation.
  • Side Sleeping. Sleep on your side using pillow support between shoulder and neck.
  • Relax Facial Muscles. Make a concerted effort to relax your lips, and keep teeth apart.
  • Yawning. Use your fist to support your chin as you yawn to prevent damage to the joint and prevent your jaw from locking open.

In addition, avoid:

  • Jaw clenching.
  • Gum chewing.
  • Cradling the telephone, which may irritate jaw and neck muscles.

Be sure to discuss your jaw limitations with your doctor prior to surgery or a long dental appointment so he/she uses extreme caution. Anesthesia, often used during dental procedures, can affect mouth opening and damage the joint. If possible, avoid long dental appointments requiring an open mouth for more than 30 minutes. For more information about this topic, please review our Dental Hygiene Brochure (.pdf).

Remember, if your TMJ problems get worse with time, you should seek professional advice. However, first and foremost, educate yourself. Informed patients are better able to talk with health care providers, ask questions, and make knowledgeable decisions. By seeking out the information on this website, you are on the road to being an informed patient and better able to help yourself.

We suggest you read through and print out our list of questions (.pdf) to ask your doctor prior to consenting to any treatment.


In Treating TMJ

To view or order a free booklet about TMJ Disorders, visit the National Institutes of Health website.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Office of Research on Women's Health