Temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome can cause severe pain and "clicking" sounds in the jaw. It can also cause headaches. Although TMJ is difficult to cure, there are many things you can do to help alleviate the symptoms.
Don't overuse your jaw. Avoid hard foods.
Try over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. Some TMJ sufferers find ibuprofen especially effective.
Take a stress management course or listen to relaxation tapes. TMJ is sometimes caused by and always aggravated by stress.
Practice stretching exercises designed especially for the shoulders and neck. This will help reduce some of the tension in your upper body.
Stand tall. Good posture helps your jaw to sit properly.
Avoid spending hours over the computer. Holding your neck stiff aggravates TMJ.
Take muscle relaxants if jaw pain persists. Your doctor can write you a prescription for pain relievers.
Wear a mouth guard. Many sufferers of TMJ grind their teeth at night. Grinding puts stress on the jaw joints and muscles. A mouth guard prevents night grinding.
Ask your dentist about an intra-oral orthotic. This is a temporary mouth splint that helps reposition the jaw, thus alleviating joint stress and pressure.
Consider jaw surgery if all other treatments fail.
TMJ will never cure itself. It is a progressive disease, so some kind of treatment is always advisable. Consider this: every time you swallow, your teeth clamp down and exert 25 pounds of pressure. Some of that pressure is transferred to your jaw joints with every swallow.