Self-Care Suggestions for Masticatory
& Myalgia
  • Apply moist heat or cold, whichever feels better, to the joint
    or muscles that are sore.  Heat or ice applications used for
    10 – 20 minutes, 3 – 4 times per day can reduce
    joint/muscle pain and relax the muscles.  For heat,
    microwave a wet towel for approximately 1 minute or until
    the towel is warm.  You can also wrap this moist hot towel
    around a hot-water bottle to keep it warm longer.  For cold,
    use ice wrapped in a thin wash cloth.  Keep ice on the
    painful area only until you first feel some numbness, but
    more than 5 minutes.

  • Eat a soft, pain-free diet.  Avoid hard foods, such as French
    Bread or bagels.  Avoid chewy food such as steak or boiled
    sweets.  Cut fruits and steamed vegetables into small
    pieces.  Do not chew gum.

  • Chew your food on both sides at the same time or alternate
    sides to reduce strain on one side.  Chew with your back
    teeth rather than biting with your front teeth.

  • Avoid oral habits that put strain on the jaw muscles and
    joints.  These include teeth clenching or grinding, teeth
    touching or resting together, biting cheeks or lips, tongue
    pushing against teeth, jaw tensing, biting objects and other
    habits.  Note if you do these while you exercise or work and
    then modify your habits.

  • Keep your tongue up, teeth apart and jaw muscles
    relaxed.  You must avoid clenching and grinding your teeth.  
    You should closely monitor your jaw position during the day
    so that you can maintain your jaw in a relaxed, comfortable
    position.  This involves placing the tongue lightly on the
    palate behind your upper front teeth, allowing the teeth to
    come apart and relaxing the jaw muscles.

  • Learn and practice relaxation and abdominal breathing.  
    This will help reduce your reactions to stressful life events.

  • Identify the events that trigger the pain.  Use a ‘pain diary’
    to review daily activities that aggravate the pain and modify
    your behaviour accordingly.

  • Get a good night’s sleep.  Manage your sleep environment.  
    Reduce light and noise and lie on a comfortable mattress.  
    For parents of infants, plan an occasional night when you
    are not responsible for the baby.  Reduce stimulating
    activities in the late evening.  Avoid sleeping on your

  • Avoid caffeine.  Caffeine can disturb sleep and increase
    muscle tension.

  • Avoid activities that strain your jaw, such as resting your
    jaw on your hand, excessive singing or use of musical
    instruments, if they aggravate the pain.

  • Avoid activities that involve wide opening of the mouth
    (such as yawning, prolonged dental treatment etc) for a
    period of time until the pain has reduced.

  • Use anti-inflammatories and analgesics such as ibuprofen
    or paracetamol to reduce joint and muscle pain or
    diclofenac or ibuprofen gels applied to the chewing
    muscles / jaw joints.

Useful Websites:

Eastman Oral Medicine Clinic - TMJ Pain Dysfunction - 4 steps
to manage jaw joint pain

Eastman Oral Medicine Clinic - TMJ Pain Dysfunction
Last Updated 11th August 2010