What do I need to know about caring for someone with TMD?

If you are caring for someone with TMD, it's crucial that they are properly diagnosed before you begin. Diagnosis is an important step before treatment. Depending on the diagnosis, your dentist may refer you to a physician or another dentist. There are several treatments for TMJ disorders which include: 

  • eating softer foods
  • avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
  • modifying the pain with heat packs
  • practicing relaxation techniques to control jaw tension, such as meditation or biofeedback.
  • exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
  • medications prescribed by your dentist; for example, muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications
  • a night guard or bite plate to decrease clenching or grinding of teeth.

In some cases, your dentist may recommend fixing an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also be recommended. Your dentist can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the suspected cause.

While most people with TMD will be able to care for themselves, there are some things you can keep in mind if you are around a person with one of these disorders. Be mindful that they may be in pain, as that is a primary symptom for this group of disorders. You may need to be present if they require particularly strong pain relievers or sedatives. If you prepare food for them, they may need a special diet of soft foods for a time. Stress can be an underlying cause of TMD, so make an effort to provide a relaxing environment and not to add stress to the person's life.

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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.