Is there an over-the-counter fix for TMJ?

My mom and dad have both recently suffered some major medical issues that have caused a lot of stress both physically and financially for our family. There’s just not a lot of extra money right now. I have TMJ and all the stress has caused a flare-up and I literally can’t open my mouth. My jaw has been locked for several weeks. I’m in so much pain! I’ve seen those mouth appliances you can buy at the drug store for about $20. Would one of them help? — Sasha

Dear Sasha,
Sorry to hear that you’re going through so much right now. Hopefully things will get better from here on out. As for the TMJ, there are a couple of things you can try at home to help with the inflammation:

  1. Alternate between heat and ice packs (for about 10 minutes at a time) on your jaw joints
  2. Take 800mg of Ibuprofen three times a day

If the dentist is simply out of the question right now, try the store-bought mouth guard as it will be better than doing nothing. If you’re grinding your teeth a lot, just be careful and check that you’re not wearing it through. Hopefully, though, it will help protect your teeth for now. They come in small, medium, large or one-size-fits-all, but regardless of what you buy, keep in mind that it won’t be a perfect fit since it’s not custom made.

For moderate to severe temporomandibular joint dysfunction like you are experiencing, a custom night guard made by your dentist is really the best way to go. If you have dental insurance they may cover all or even a portion of the cost. Make a call and find out. Another option would be to see if your dentist offers CareCredit. It’s a no-interest medical card you can apply for if you don’t have insurance, but have adequate credit. Check into both of these options since your TMJ is fairly severe – it will be worth it in the end if you can get a custom-fit appliance and get this flare-up under control.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.