If you develop jaw pain and related TMJ symptoms, you should consider home care first. Home care can work great for minor cases of TMJ, but there are some important considerations you must look at to evaluate each potential home care option.
Is It Harmful?
You have to take the Hippocratic Oath just as seriously as your doctor does: First, do no harm to yourself. There are some home care treatments for TMJ out there that can be harmful, and you have to consider the potential for injury before you try any treatment at home.
Remember, sometimes safe treatments can be harmful if not done properly, such as taking too much of an over-the-counter pain medication.
Is It Effective?
A home treatment that doesn’t work is a waste of time and money. Not only that, it is harmful to the extent that it’s preventing you from getting a more effective treatment.
Unfortunately, there are many people advertising TMJ, jaw pain, and other treatments that haven’t been proven effective (such as zinc for tinnitus). Take some time and do your research to determine whether a home treatment is effective before trying it.
Is It Expensive?
As we mentioned above, there are many people marketing TMJ and other chronic pain relief treatments that don’t work — and many of them are expensive. People are trying to take advantage of your pain by marketing treatments that cost a lot of money. Although they might give you a free trial or charge relatively little for a single treatment, you may need many treatments to get the claimed effect.
Is It Complicated?
Some home TMJ treatments can be hard to do right. And if you do them wrong, you may end up with an injury. Some types of massage or yoga treatments for TMJ can be difficult, and they’ll strain your muscles if you do them wrong. Other treatments may require specific dosages at specific times that can be hard to manage, especially if they interact with parts of your diet that you consume regularly.
When to Get Professional Help
Although it’s good to start with home care for TMJ, you also have to know when to seek professional care for your jaw pain and other symptoms. In general, there are four principles to follow:
Time: If your jaw pain or other symptoms last for more than a week, it’s time to talk to a doctor or dentist.
Recurrence: If jaw pain or other symptoms occur three times or more, you need to get help figuring out the cause and making sure there isn’t something serious going on.
Worsening: If jaw pain continues to get worse despite home care, it’s time to seek professional care. This is a sign that what you’re dealing with is a degenerative condition, and waiting to get care means you will need to get more invasive treatments.
Severity: An acute condition might need immediate care. If your pain is so bad you can’t sleep or can’t work, you need to get professional care. This also goes for TMJ that is disabling in other ways, such as being unable to chew even soft food or being unable to speak.
At Smile Columbia Dentistry, our TMJ dentists want you to get the best care, which might be home care in some cases. But if you think you need professional care, please call (803) 781-9090 today for a consultation about jaw pain in Columbia, SC.