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Portsmouth Regional Hospital
Seabrook Emergency Room

Other Treatments for Temporomandibular Disorders

For Managing Pain and Inflammation

Application of Heat and Cold

Heat improves blood circulation to the treated area. Applying heat via warm soaks or heating pads can be very soothing. Most doctors recommend that you apply the heat for about 10 minutes at a time, 3-4 times a day.

Cold can help decrease inflammation in an affected joint, relieve pain, and improve stiffness and movement. Apply an ice pack for 20-30 minutes at a time, several times each day.

Intra-articular Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are rarely used for TMD, although they may be recommended for more severe cases, predominantly when the disorder is caused by inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis . The corticosteroid medication can help decrease inflammation and pain in the joint.

In this therapy, the affected joint is injected with a solution containing a corticosteroid, such as:

  • Methylprednisolone
  • Triamcinolone

In the more common situation in which pain is due to muscle tension rather than TMD arthritis, injection of Botox into facial muscles can give relief of pain when other treatments have failed. Treatments may need to be repeated. The safety and efficacy of such repeated treatments have not yet been established.

Laser Therapy

There is some limited evidence that low-level laser therapy can improve symptoms, though few scientific studies provide strong guidance for choosing treatments.

For Managing Tooth Grinding and Jaw Clenching

Splint, Bite Plate, Nightguard

You doctor may order you a splint or bite plate that interferes with jaw clenching and teeth grinding. You might be advised to wear it only at night, or you might wear it at times during the day when you are more likely to grind your teeth or clench your jaw. These appliances should not alter your natural bite.


You doctor may inject Botox to weaken the muscles that cause jaw clenching.

You doctor may inject Botox to weaken the muscles that cause jaw clenching.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if:

  • The device or treatment seems to be increasing your pain.
  • You notice any new symptoms after you begin using the appliance or treatment.

Revision Information

  • Cetiner S, Kahraman SA, YücetaƟ S. Evaluation of low-level laser therapy in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders. Photomed Laser Surg. 2006;24(5):637-641.

  • Medlicott MS, Harris SR. A systematic review of the effectiveness of exercise, manual therapy, electrotherapy, relaxation training, and biofeedback in the management of temporomandibular disorder. Phys Ther. 2006;86(7):955-973.

  • Siccoli MM, Bassetti CL, Sándor PS. Facial pain: a clinical differential diagnosis. Lancet Neurology. 2006;5(3):257-267.

  • TMJ. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: Updated December 2010. Accessed April 5, 2013.

  • TMJ. American Dental Association Mouth Healthy website. Available at: Accessed April 5, 2013.

  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: Updated March 21, 2013. Accessed April 5, 2013.

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated May 11, 2015. Accessed October 5, 2016.

  • von Lindern JJ, Niederhagen B, Bergé S, Appel T. Type A botulinum toxin in the treatment of chronic facial pain associated with masticatory hyperactivity. J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2003;61(7):774-778.