TMJ Treatment Options

Page content


The temporomandibular joint and muscle are located within the jaw and control the movement of the jaw bone. Inflammation can occur in individuals that have arthritis, grind their teeth, have muscle fatigue or a jaw injury, resulting in a disorder known as TMJ. The area around the temporomandibular joint, including the teeth, muscles (face, jaw, and neck), cartilage and blood vessels can also be affected by the inflammation.

There are a variety of disorders and dysfunctions of the temporomandibular joint, and the level of pain can vary ranging from minimal to severe.

TMJ disorder symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Limited ability to open mouth.
  • Headache.
  • Balance problems.
  • Joint stiffness.

If you think you have a TMJ disorder, a medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment. TMJ treatment options include pain medication, surgery, splints and behavior modification.

Pain Medication

Over-the-counter and prescription pain medication, especially ibuprofen, acetaminophen and naproxen, can be used to alleviate the discomfort caused by a TMJ disorder. If the medication does not reduce the symptoms, a physician can prescribe a higher dose of ibuprofen or other pain reducer.

Individuals who use pain medications long term may develop a tolerance to them, and the tolerance may result in the need for a higher dosage or change in medication type. Muscle relaxants can be prescribed to relax the jaw muscles which cause the discomfort.


Surgery should be the last treatment option used considering it is the most invasive. Surgical changes in the jaw area are typically permanent and can make the discomfort more severe. Prior to having surgery related to a TMJ disorder, the full procedure should be understood including risks, benefits, and possible outcomes. It is important that the physician is aware of the individual’s medical history including medications, current and past illnesses. Once surgery is performed, other treatment options may be eliminated.


Splints, also known as bite guards, are medical devices that are placed over the teeth. A splint will not eliminate a TMJ disorder but can reduce the discomfort associated with it. A splint is a short-term solution. If a splint is worn for a long duration, it may change the position of teeth or bite which can worsen the problem in the long term.

Behavior Modification

There are certain activities that can exacerbate a TMJ disorder. By avoiding these activities, discomfort may be reduced or eliminated.

Activities to avoid:

  • Singing.
  • Yawning.
  • Chewing gum.

TMJ treatment options include maintaining a healthy diet, reducing stress and eating soft foods. The TMJ disorder will not be eliminated but the harmful effects, such as pain and discomfort, can be reduced or eliminated. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation may be recommended to reduce stress. Specific exercises for the jaw muscles may reduce the stress on the muscles.


MedlinePlus: TMJ Disorders:

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: TMJ Disorders:{53FD7A9D-B819-4CE4-8AFB-65BBD352BD26}&NRORIGINALURL=%2fOralHealth%2fTopics%2fTMJ%2fTMJDisorders.htm&NRCACHEHINT=Guest#symptoms