Comfort measures for TM disorders

Apply moist heat to your jaw to relieve sore, tense muscles related to a temporomandibular disorder. Do not apply heat to your jaw if it has swollen after an injury.

  • Dip a towel in hot tap water or warm a damp towel in a microwave oven. You may also use a hot pack, electric moist heating unit, or a heating pad set on low or medium.
  • Apply moist heat (no warmer than bath water) to your jaw muscles 3 to 4 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes each time.
  • If moist heat alone does not bring relief, alternate moist heat and an ice pack. Apply each for 5 to 8 minutes.

Do not use heat if your jaw is swollen, you have had an injury to the jaw, you have difficulty sensing pain, or you have poor blood circulation.

Apply ice to your jaw if there is swelling, such as from a recent injury.

  • Apply ice 3 or 4 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes each time. Do this for the first 3 days.
  • After 3 days, apply moist heat, following the same schedule, for 1 week.

Use aspirin or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (such as Motrin or Advil) to reduce jaw swelling and pain.

Last Updated: January 13, 2010

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