How to Treat TMJ Disorders

Dealing with TMJ pain can be frustrating. You just want relief. But you don’t want to waste your time with TMJ treatments that don’t work. So, finding the right treatment option is important. The right TMJ treatment depends on your unique case. Most patients do fine with mild treatments like rest and over-the-counter pain medication. Others with more severe TMJ pain should consider TMJ surgery.

Of course, you need to get input from your doctor before starting any type of treatment. But you can use the information below to get a better idea of what treatments are available.

Let’s get started.

TMJ Pain Needs to be Treated

One of the most common questions anyone asks when they start to feel pain is “Do I need to be concerned about this?” Maybe your throat is feeling scratchy and you wonder if you need to go to the doctor. Or you hurt your knee and think you can probably just walk it off.

And if you’ve been experiencing jaw joint pain you may be wondering if you need to treat it. Is it just mild pain that will go away on its own? Or do you need to take it more seriously? Should you see a doctor?

Jaw Joint Pain Should be Treated Early

Like with any medical issue, TMJ disorders vary from person to person. But if you ignore your pain in the hopes that it will just go away, your TMJ disorder may progress to something more serious.

We encourage patients who are dealing with TMJ issues to treat them early. If your TMJ disorder is mild, you should be able to treat it conservatively with over-the-counter pain medication and heat/ice therapy. Resting the joint by going on a soft food diet can also help prevent further damage.

However, if these treatments do not help you find the relief you’re looking for, you should talk to your doctor or a specialist as early as possible. Talk to someone who understands what is going on inside your jaw joint. They may be able to uncover the root cause and offer more suitable treatment options.  

What Are My Treatment Options for TMJ Pain?

There are several different treatment options for TMJ pain. The right treatment will depend on your case. Most of the time, TMJ disorders are mild due to a minor injury. Your jaw may hurt for a few days or weeks, but over time it will heal just like the other joints in your body. But, even if you have mild TMJ pain there are still things you can do to take care of your joint.

Here are a few suggestions for taking care of mild TMJ pain:

  • Resting the joint
  • Ice/heat therapy
  • Over-the-counter medications

If your pain persists, you probably need to consider other TMJ treatment options. There’s probably something more going on with your joint. 

If your TMJ pain is caused by a bad bite, orthodontics can help. Your mouth works as a whole system. So if your bite is misaligned it can affect your jaw joint. A bad bite forces you to work harder when you chew. This puts excess pressure on your TMJ, causing pain. Orthodontics can help realign your bite, taking pressure off the jaw joint. Then, you can move on to treating any damage done to the joint. 

Botox and mouthguards are also common treatments for TMJ disorders. 

In some cases, surgery is necessary to treat TMJ pain. Since surgery is more invasive than other TMJ treatments you need to talk it over with your doctor. Surgery can help if you have a displaced disc or if the joint is severely damaged. 

There are three types of TMJ surgery:

  • Arthrocentesis
  • Arthroscopy
  • Open joint surgery

How Do I Know Which Treatment I Need?

The treatment that is right for you should be discussed with your medical team. If you are just experiencing jaw joint pain for the first time then try resting the joint, OTC meds, and ice/heat therapy for a while. If the pain persists then you should talk to your doctor. 

Your doctor should perform a thorough examination that includes feeling your joint and getting X-rays so they can get the full picture of what’s going on inside your joint. Make sure you see a doctor that has a thorough understanding of how the jaw joint works. The diagnosis will determine what treatment you need.


TMJ disorders – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic. (2018b, December 28).

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention. (n.d.-b). Cleveland Clinic.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD, TMJ). (2003b, June 3). WebMD.

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