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Medications for Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

There are no medications that are specifically designed to treat TMD. However, if you are having a lot of pain and discomfort, your doctor might recommend a pain reliever, muscle relaxant, or a type of antidepressant that is used to treat chronic pain. In severe cases, your doctor or dentist may recommend a shot of a steroid into the joint to decrease inflammation and relieve pain. These medications are usually used for very brief periods of time. Check with your doctor to determine exactly how long you should be using these types of medications.

Prescription Medications

Benzodiazepines

  • Diazepam
  • Alprazolam
  • Clonazepam

Tricyclic antidepressants

  • Amitriptyline
  • Clomipramine
  • Desipramine
  • Imipramine
  • Nortriptyline

Over-the-Counter Medications

Acetaminophen

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Prescription Medications

Benzodiazepines

Common names include:

  • Diazepam
  • Alprazolam
  • Clonazepam

Minor tranquilizers are generally reserved for very severe cases of TMD. These medications have general and muscle relaxing effects, and they may help relieve some of the pain in your jaw and muscles. They may help you avoid grinding your teeth and/or clenching your jaw while you sleep. The medications may also relieve anxiety thereby making it easier for you to stop grinding your teeth and/or clenching your jaw during the day.

These medications are usually prescribed for use at night and for a very brief time, usually less than a month.

Possible side effects include:

  • May be habit-forming if used for a long period of time
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness

Do not take these medications with alcohol or with other medications that can cause drowsiness, including other sedatives, pain medications, antihistamines, and sleeping pills.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Common names include:

  • Amitriptyline
  • Clomipramine
  • Desipramine
  • Imipramine
  • Nortriptyline

Tricyclic antidepressant drugs may be useful for treating chronic pain of severe TMD. These medications are usually prescribed for use at night and for a very brief time, usually less than a month.

Possible side effects include:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight gain
  • Increased sun sensitivity

Do not take these medications with alcohol or with other medications that can cause drowsiness, including other sedatives, pain medications, antihistamines, and sleeping pills.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen can be helpful in relieving some of the jaw and muscle pain associated with TMD. It’s also safe to give to children. Do not take a larger dose than is recommended by your doctor. Do not drink alcoholic beverages while you are taking acetaminophen.

Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen can also help relieve some of the jaw and muscle pain and inflammation associated with TMD. Because some people find ibuprofen to be very hard on the stomach, you should take this medication with food. Drinking alcoholic beverages while you are taking ibuprofen can increase the chance that it will irritate your stomach.

On rare occasions, people have allergic reactions to ibuprofen. If you notice a new skin rash, difficulty breathing, or puffiness or swelling in your face or around your eyes, stop taking ibuprofen and immediately call your doctor.

Naproxen

Naproxen is similar to ibuprofen both in action and in side effects.

Special Considerations

If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:

  • Take the medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medication.
  • Plan ahead for refills if you need them.
  • Do not share your prescription medication with anyone.
  • Medications can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor if you are taking more than one medication, including over-the-counter products and supplements.

Revision Information

  • Mujakperuo HR, Watson M, Morrison R, Macfarlane TV. Pharmacological interventions for pain in patients with temporomandibular disorders. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(10):CD004715.

  • Siccoli MM, Bassetti CL, Sándor PS. Facial pain: a clinical differential diagnosis. Lancet Neurology. 2006;5(3):257-267.

  • TMJ. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/tmj. Updated December 2010. Accessed April 5, 2013.

  • TMJ. American Dental Association Mouth Healthy website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tmj. Accessed April 5, 2013.

  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/TMJ. Updated March 21, 2013. Accessed April 5, 2013.

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114703/Temporomandibular-joint-TMJ-dysfunction. Updated May 11, 2015. Accessed October 5, 2016.

  • 2/18/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114703/Temporomandibular-joint-TMJ-dysfunction: Serretti A, Mandelli L. Antidepressants and body weight: a comprehensive review and meta-analysis. J Clin Psychiatry . 2010;71(10):1259-1272.