Traveling with TMD

Tmj Dentist Phoenix, AZ

Temporomandibular disorder, more commonly known as TMD, affects much of the population. According to the National Institute of Health, up to ten million Americans deal with some type of TMD pain at some point in life. This disorder affects the joint that maneuvers the jawbone and can be highly disruptive to a person's life. While there are some techniques to help manage symptoms, it can be stressful for those dealing with this condition when a trip or event disrupts the normal routine. A person may worry that a flare-up will occur while away from home and may wonder how to manage symptoms at any place or time.

Managing TMD while traveling

While it requires some preparation on the part of the traveler, it is not impossible to manage TMD on the road. By packing a few essential items, as well as reducing stress, a person can enjoy a trip without spending the entire time suffering from TMD pain.

Pack a warm compress

One easy way to ease TMJ pain is to use a warm compress. This can be as simple as filling a sock with rice and warming it for a few seconds in a microwave. Almost all hotel rooms come equipped with a microwave now, and a warm compress does not take up much space in a suitcase. In a bind, a damp washcloth heated in the microwave can be used as a warm compress as well.

Bring a night guard

Sometimes TMD is related to bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding. If a person grinds their teeth at night and notices headaches and jaw pain throughout the day, it can be wise to visit a dentist to have a custom night guard made for sleeping. This should be packed for any overnight trip; if it is forgotten, a temporary night guard can be bought at most pharmacies. However, a custom-fit model typically manages symptoms more predictably. 

Take medication as prescribed by a doctor

For those with moderate to severe TMD pain, muscle relaxers may be used at night to reduce clenching and grinding of the teeth. It is important that medication is taken exactly as prescribed by a doctor, and a patient should consult a physician about taking over-the-counter medications for jaw pain as well.

Use stress-reduction techniques

While some travel is meant to be relaxing, the act of going through an airport or driving in an unfamiliar place can bring on high levels of stress. This can translate into excessive teeth clenching or grinding, which ultimately leads to jaw pain. Therefore, it is important to remember to use stress-reduction techniques to reduce these habits. This can include deep breathing or a few minutes of silent meditation. Preventing TMD pain is an important step in TMD management. 


For those living with TMD, travel plans can become more complicated and potentially stress-inducing. However, by keeping a few essential items on hand and being conscious of habits that worsen jaw pain, one does not have to be controlled by TMJ pain while traveling.

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