Medications for TMJ Disorders

Anti-depressants, NSAIDs, and Other Medications for TMJ Disorders

Sometimes the symptoms of TMJ disorders go away on their own, but if they don't, there are several medications for TMJ disorders you can try.

Before trying a medication—even if it's over-the-counter (OTC)—get your doctor's okay before taking it. Certain medications have side effects, such as drowsiness or weight gain, and some medications may also interact with other medications you're currently taking.

In-depth Articles on Other TMJ Disorders Treatments

Your doctor or dentist will most likely have you try an OTC medication before prescribing you a medication. If OTC medications are not strong enough to relieve jaw pain and other TMJ disorders, at that point your doctor will prescribe a stronger medication to ease your symptoms.

Over-the-Counter Medications for TMJ Disorders
Acetaminophen is used to help temporarily reduce jaw pain but it doesn't address inflammation. Tylenol is a popular brand of acetaminophen.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help temporarily control both jaw pain and inflammation in the TMJ. An example of an NSAID is ibuprofen (eg, Advil).

Prescription Medications for TMJ Disorders
Muscle relaxants
are sometimes used to help relieve jaw pain and discomfort due to a TMJ disorder. They work by relaxing the muscles in your jaw and face, and they help decrease muscle spasms. Because muscle relaxants are strong medications, you'll most likely only use them for a few days or a few weeks at a time. An example of a muscle relaxant used for TMJ disorders is diazepam (eg, Valium).

Tricyclic anti-depressants can help relieve pain caused by a TMJ disorder. You don't have to have a history of depression to take an anti-depressant. These medications work by influencing how your body interprets pain. An example of a tricyclic anti-depressant used to treat TMJ disorders is amitriptyline (eg, Elavil).

Corticosteroids may be necessary if your jaw pain and inflammation are significant. However, they're rarely used to treat TMJ disorders. If you do need them, your doctor will inject the corticosteroid into the joint, which will help provide temporary relief. Triamcinolone (eg, Kenalog) is an example of a corticosteroid used to treat TMJ disorders.

Botulinum toxin—aka Botox—is sometimes used to help relieve TMJ disorder-related pain. Although some experts think a small dose of Botox into the jaw muscles used for chewing may help relieve TMJ symptoms, Botox has not yet been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for TMJ disorders. Currently, studies are looking at how Botox impacts muscles and nerves in the jaw.1

Which Medications for TMJ Disorders Should You Take?
The medications you take to help control jaw pain and other TMJ symptoms depend on the severity of your symptoms. Work with your doctor to help figure out the medications that are right for you. Also, know that medications won't cure TMJ disorders, but they can significantly help you deal with jaw pain and discomfort.

Updated on: 01/17/12
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