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How do medications treat temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?

There are several ways to treat TMD. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has recommended a "less if often best" approach in treating temporomandibular joint disorders.

For those patients who experience pain from TMD, the use of medications -- such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications -- may be prescribed. 
Medications treat temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a condition of the jaw and face muscles, by helping to control pain and discomfort. TMD often affects your ability to chew, speak, and move your head. Muscle relaxants can help loosen tight jaw muscles, while anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve pain and swelling. If your TMD is caused by stress, your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help you manage stress, or low-dose antidepressants to help you better tolerate pain. If your pain and discomfort are not as severe, you may find relief at your local pharmacy with over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen (such as Aleve or Motrin). Check with your doctor before using anti-inflammatory drugs.

For most people with TMD, pain is a primary symptom. Pain can be located in the jaw, face, head, neck, back, or shoulders. Pain medicines, particularly NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), aspirin, sedatives, or muscle relaxants may be prescribed. Medicines are not viewed as a cure for TMD, but rather as a short-term solution to address pain until the underlying cause of TMD is discovered and addressed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.