If you are suffering from the early stages of TMJ, it’s not a bad idea to try home therapy to try to relieve discomfort and try to reduce your risk of developing a more severe form of the condition. Among the most commonly recommended home therapies is the application of heat to the face or neck muscles to try to relieve jaw pain.
A new study confirms that this recommendation is actually backed up by scientific studies.
Evaluating Home Heat Therapy
Before we recommend any therapy as something you can try at home, we first run it through our 4-point inspection.
Is It Harmful? There is some potential for heat therapy to be harmful, if you apply something that’s too hot. If you touch your skin with a heating pad, water bottle, wet cloth, or bathwater, and you get immediate pain from the contact, then it’s too hot. In fact, whenever you get pain from applying heat, you should stop. Also, avoid applying heat directly to the temporomandibular joint, as heat can lead to increased swelling. But if you follow these two rules, heat therapy isn’t likely to be harmful.
Is It Effective? Yes. At least, that’s the ruling of this recent review. It turns out that, according to 13 studies on the subject, applying moist heat for 20 minutes a day can result in significant reduction of pain and muscle tension. It can also improve jaw function–allowing the jaw to open wider.
Is It Expensive? No. Odds are you probably have something at home that you can use for this, including just taking a hot shower.
Is It Complicated? No. Other than using something too hot or applying heat to your joint, there aren’t many things that can go wrong with this particular therapy. Almost everyone can do this one.
Not a Substitute for Professional Care
However, it’s important to remember that home heat therapy is not a substitute for professional care for your TMJ. If your symptoms persist, recur, or worsen, it’s time to talk to your doctor or a TMJ dentist to determine the cause of your symptoms. For help with TMJ in Columbia, SC, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment at Smile Columbia Dentistry.