Treatment depends on the type of jaw joint problem you have.
Usually your dentist will be able to help relieve your symptoms with simple treatments. He or she will explain the problem to you and give you advice on anything you can do to reduce pain or clicking, such as not yawning too widely or choosing soft foods.
Your dentist may give you some jaw exercises to do. The aim of these is to improve the way that the joint works and to strengthen the muscles surrounding it. If stress is causing symptoms, counseling and relaxation therapy can help some people.
Your dentist may prescribe painkillers to help ease the pain. He or she may also advise you to put a heat pad or ice pack on the jaw joint area to help soothe it. If you use ice, don’t apply it directly to your skin. Wrap it in a clean cloth or towel.
If your dentist thinks that you are clenching or grinding your teeth at night then he or she may suggest that you wear a mouth splint or mouth guard. This is a cover made from hard or soft plastic that fits over your upper or lower teeth. The aim of the splint is to change the way your teeth close together and prevent you grinding your teeth.
The splint is made to fit your mouth exactly. Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth using a kind of putty and send these to a laboratory where the splint is made.
You normally wear the splint at night and can also wear it at stressful times to prevent grinding and clenching. A splint can start to relieve pain in about three or four weeks, though your dentist will probably recommend that you keep wearing it for longer.
Your dentist will refer you to a specialist if your symptoms do not improve. The specialist may prescribe stronger painkillers or other medication to help relieve the pain. If stress or anxiety is making you grind or clench your teeth, he or she may prescribe anti-depressants to help you to relax.
Occasionally, surgery may be recommended. This is not common and is only recommended for a small number of people. It is important that you talk through all of the options with your specialist before having any surgery.