cold heat tmj pain

Ice or Heat for TMJ and Jaw Pain: Which Treatment is Better?

Suffering from TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) and jaw pain can be a real challenge. Fortunately, there are solutions available, including ice and heat therapy.

But how do you decide when to apply ice and when to choose heat? In this article, we’ll explore these options and help you determine the best approach for your TMJ and jaw pain relief.

In a hurry? Here’s a short Answer: Use ice for fresh TMJ injuries to reduce swelling and numb pain, and use heat for chronic TMJ issues to relax muscles and improve blood flow. In most cases, a combination of heat and cold treatment is the best option. Keep reading to find out why.
Quick links: Best TMJ pillow for jaw pain
Best rated hot and cold pack for TMJ pain
Runner up

Cold vs Heat for TMJ Pain Treatment

Ice Therapy for TMJ and Jaw Pain

  • Addressing Swelling and Pain: Ice therapy is a go-to remedy for fresh jaw injuries like sprains and strains. It’s all about cooling down the affected area, reducing both swelling and pain by constricting blood vessels.
  • Numbing the Pain: Applying a cold compress or ice pack to your jaw can also provide quick relief by numbing the pain.
  • Time Limit: Remember, don’t ice for more than 20 minutes at a stretch to avoid potential issues.

Heat Therapy for TMJ and Jaw Pain

  • Enhancing Blood Flow: Heat therapy is the preferred option for chronic problems involving muscle soreness, tightness, or stiffness. It promotes better blood flow to the area, helping to relax those tense jaw muscles.
  • Caution with Inflammation: If your jaw is swollen or inflamed, avoid heat, as it can make the situation worse.

Why a Combination Might Be Ideal

Using both hot and cold treatments for TMJ pain can be ideal because it allows you to address different aspects of the condition.

Cold reduces initial swelling and provides pain relief, while heat helps relax tense muscles and improves blood circulation, particularly beneficial for chronic issues.

Alternating between them can offer comprehensive relief and support healing. Read also what’s the best pillow for TMJ relief


Can I use both ice and heat for TMJ pain on the same day?

Yes, you can use both ice and heat, but it’s important to separate the two. Start with ice to address acute swelling and pain, wait a few hours, and then apply heat to relax tight muscles. Always consult with a healthcare professional for specific guidance.

How often should I apply ice or heat for TMJ and jaw pain?

It depends on your condition. For ice therapy, limit sessions to 20 minutes and wait at least 1-2 hours between applications. Heat therapy can be applied for 15-20 minutes, also with breaks. Consult your healthcare provider for a personalized schedule.

Are there any risks associated with using ice or heat for TMJ pain?

While ice and heat therapy are generally safe, it’s essential to use them correctly. Applying ice for too long can damage the skin, and heat should be avoided if you have an acute injury with swelling. Always follow recommended guidelines and seek medical advice as needed.

Can I use over-the-counter hot/cold packs for TMJ relief?

Yes, you can use OTC hot and cold packs. They are convenient and effective for home use. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe and proper application.

Are there any alternative remedies for TMJ pain relief?

Yes, there are alternative approaches, such as gentle jaw exercises, relaxation techniques, and dietary modifications. Physical therapy and stress management can also help manage TMJ symptoms. Consult with a healthcare provider to explore these options.

When should I see a doctor for my TMJ and jaw pain?

It’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional if your TMJ and jaw pain persist, worsen, or are accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as difficulty in opening or closing your mouth, severe headaches, or ear pain.

Can TMJ and jaw pain be a sign of a more serious condition?

In some cases, yes. TMJ pain can be a symptom of underlying dental or medical conditions. If you have persistent or severe pain, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider to rule out any serious issues.

Are there any lifestyle changes that can help prevent TMJ pain?

Maintaining good posture, avoiding excessive gum chewing, reducing stress, and practicing relaxation techniques can help prevent or manage TMJ pain. Additionally, staying hydrated and eating a soft diet can be beneficial.


Dealing with TMJ and jaw pain can be a hassle, but you’re not without options. Ice therapy is ideal for fresh injuries, calming inflammation, and numbing pain.

Heat therapy is perfect for addressing persistent muscle issues, promoting better blood flow, and relaxation.

However, it’s important to understand that what works best can vary from person to person.

That’s why professional guidance is invaluable. With the right support, you can effectively manage your TMJ and jaw pain, improving your comfort and overall quality of life.