by EBSCO Medical Review Board

To Ease Pain and Swelling

Using Heat and Cold

Heat helps blood flow. Warm soaks or heating pads can ease a muscle spasm. It can be used for 10 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times a day.

Cold can help ease swelling and pain, and improve movement. An ice pack can be used for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, many times each day.

Corticosteroid Shots

Corticosteroid shots are rarely used for TMD. They may be used for people with severe TMD caused by inflammatory problems like rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. It can help ease swelling and pain in the joint.

The joint is injected with a solution of corticosteroid, such as:

  • Methylprednisolone
  • Triamcinolone

To Stop Tooth Grinding and Jaw Clenching

Splint, Bite Plate, Nightguard

A splint or bite plate can help stop jaw clenching and teeth grinding. The doctor can order this. It is worn when a person is most likely to grind their teeth or clench their jaw. It may be worn only at night or at certain times during the day. They will not get in the way of a person's bite.

Counseling can help a person cope with stress and learn how to relax. This may ease habits that cause pain—such as jaw clenching and tooth grinding.


Botox may help people who have pain from muscle tension. It is given into facial muscles. This may be done when other treatments have not helped. It can weaken the muscles that cause jaw clenching.

It may need to be done more than 1 time. The safety of repeat treatments is not known.

To Improve Function

Physical therapy

Exercises may help to strengthen your jaw muscles.

Gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises may help the jaw move better.


Temporomandibular disorders. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons website. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2022.

Temporomandibular disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2022.

Temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) pain. ENThealth—American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2022.

TMJ. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2022.

TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: Accessed May 13, 2022.

Revision Information