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Temporomandibular Disorder


Temporomandibular disorder is a condition that causes pain in your jaw. The disorder affects the joint between your temporal bone and your mandible (jawbone). The muscles and nerves around the joint are also affected.




  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
  • NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling and pain. You can buy NSAIDs without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider which medicine is right for you, and how much to take. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly.
  • Muscle relaxers help decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Eat soft foods: Your healthcare provider may suggest that you eat only soft foods for several days. A dietitian may work with you to find foods that are easier to bite, chew, or swallow. Examples are soup, applesauce, cottage cheese, pudding, yogurt, and soft fruits.
  • Use jaw supporting devices: Splints may be used to support your jaw or keep it from moving. You may need to wear a mouth guard to keep you from clenching or grinding your teeth while you are sleeping.
  • Use ice and heat: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your jaw for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. After the first 24 to 48 hours, use heat to decrease pain, swelling, and muscle spasms. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Use a heating pad, moist warm compress, or a hot water bottle.
  • Go to physical therapy: A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain in your jaw. A speech therapist may also help you with swallowing and speech exercises.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your splint or mouth guard is loose.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have nausea, are vomiting, or cannot keep liquids down.
  • You have pain that does not go away even after you take your pain medicine.
  • You have problems breathing, talking, drinking, eating, or swallowing.
  • Your splint or mouth guard gets damaged or broken.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Temporomandibular Disorder (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.