This is from a previous post that I thought might deserve being posted again for those new to tmj.
Simple Self Care Management Techniques are:
Eating soft foods like baby food, soups, milkshakes, eggs. This is to relieve the load on the TM joint to cause less muscle activity. Severe cases may need a liquid
Avoid hard foods like French bread or bagels. Avoid chewy foods like steak or candy. Cut fruits into small pieces and steam vegetables.
Chew with our back teeth rather than biting with your front teeth. Don't take big bites or open your mouth too wider than 1-2 inches. Don't eat any foods that require prolonged chewing.
DO NOT CHEW GUM! Chewing gum much of the day increases the wear and tear on the joint giving little opportunity for your jaw to recover between meals.
Saying the letter N throughout the day can remind you to unclench or discontinue grinding your teeth.
Repair teeth that have been damaged from grinding.
If you chew habitually only on one side of your mouth you concentrate all the pressure on one side rather than equally on both sides of your mouth so you need to learn to chew evenly, left vs. right.
Applying heat for 5-10 minutes 2 to 4 times daily. Microwave a wet towel for approximately 1 minute or until towel is warm. You can also wrap the moist hot towel around a hot water bottle to keep it warm longer. This will increase circulation and relax involved muscles,
For cold compresses, use ice wrapped in a thing washcloth for 5-10 minutes, 4 times daily. Ice should only be applied to the painful area until numbness is experienced. Heat or ice can reduce joint or muscle pain and relax the muscles. For acute injuries cold is recommended.
Keep your tongue up and teeth apart. The teeth should never be touching (Except occasionally during swallowing).
Remember to keep the joints moving in order to produce synovial fluid, don't immobilize this area .
Closely monitor your jaw position during the day in order to maintain a relaxed and comfortable position. This involves placing the tongue lightly on the top of your upper front teeth, allowing the teeth to come apart and relax the jaw muscles.
Avoiding extreme jaw movements (such as wide yawning, loud singing and gum chewing).
Massage to reduce pain and heal sore muscles. Use your fingers to massage in a circular motion, the tender muscles, usually the masseter or temporalis for 5-10 seconds.
After massaging, stretch the mouth open to the point where it is comfortable and not painful and it is held stretched open for 5-10 seconds. Do not massage while stretching. This helps to stretch the masticatory muscles to their full length. Do this for technique for 5-10 repetitions and than return to hot or cold packs. Repeat this regimen frequently throughout the day.
Learning special techniques by reading a book about relaxation, listen to a relaxation tape or try yoga for relaxing and reducing stress. Advanced problems may need to be referred to a psychologist for biofeedback and stress reduction skills.
Physical therapy you can do at home, which focuses on gentle muscle stretching and relaxing exercises. When muscle pain is widespread down to through the shoulders try physical therapy or massage. Some commonly used exercised to treat TMJ are: N-stretching (placing the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth and stretching the jaw)
Chin-to-chest exercises (gently pulling the head forward, bringing the chin toward the chest.
Head tilts (turning the head to one side and then tilting it posteriorly)
These exercise are most effective if done regularly 4-6 times per day. In addition, moist heat application for 10-15 minutes followed by ethyl chloride or fluoromethane spray prior to stretching the muscles is helpful.
Short-term use of muscle-relaxing and anti-inflammatory drugs. Over the counter ibuprofen may be useful for short-term use. Or ask your doctor/dentist about using prescription anti-inflammatory (rofecoxib, 25 mg per day for pain and inflammation) to reduce gastrointestinal toxicity. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (Ibuprofen, Naprosyn, Tylenol, Alleve) even aspirin are very effective for reducing inflammation in joints and are recommended before bed and upon waking. NSAIDs (Motrin, Naprosyn) are indicated for mild to moderate acute inflammatory conditions. They may be used for a minimum of 2 weeks. Long term NSAID use is not recommended.
Vapo-coolant spray provides a temporary anesthesia effect to the muscles. A commonly used muscles relaxant is cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
Ultrasound sound waves that are applied to the joint and muscles to reduce pain and swelling and promote healing.
Avoid oral habits that put strain on the jaw muscles and joints. These include clenching, grinding, touching, biting cheeks, jaw tensing, biting objects, popping your jaw joint, leaning on the palm of your hands while reading or watching TV or other habits. Lips together teeth apart is a technique to keep the jaw in neutral relaxed position. Practice this technique during the day and before falling asleep.
Avoid activities that involve wide or prolonged opening of jaw, long dental treatment until the pain has been reduced.
Do not thrust your lower jaw forward, such as biting off a piece of thread, smoking, applying lipstick or while under stress.
Avoid stomach sleeping or leaning on the jaw since this puts adverse forces on the jaw and neck muscles.
Don't bite any food with your front teeth.
Antidepressants like Elavil and medications like it, will put the sufferer into Delta 4 sleep. Delta 4 sleep helps you not to grind your teeth so the muscles get a rest and the pain is decreased.