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 prescription or an over-the-counter pain reliever, muscle relaxant, or antidepressant (a type 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 medicines 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 medicines.

Prescription Medications

Minor tranquilizers

  • Diazepam (Diastat, Diazepam Intensol, Dizac, Valium)
  • Alprazolam (Alprazolam Intensol, Xanax)

Tricyclic antidepressants

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin)
  • Imipramine (Norfranil, Tipramine, Tofranil)
  • Nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor)

Over-the-Counter Medications

Acetaminophen

  • Tylenol

Ibuprofen

  • Advil
  • Excedrin IB
  • Motrin
  • Nuprin

Naproxen

  • Aleve
  • Naprosyn

Prescription Medications

Minor Tranquilizers

Common names include:

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 medicines 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
  • Dizziness

Don’t take these medicines with alcohol or with other medicines that can cause drowsiness, including other sedatives, pain medications, antihistamines, and sleeping pills.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Common names include:

Tricyclic antidepressant drugs have been found to be effective for treating chronic pain of severe TMD. These medicines are usually prescribed for use at night and for a very brief time (usually less than a month).

Possible side effects include:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sun sensitivity

Don’t take these medicines with alcohol or with other medicines that can cause drowsiness, including other sedatives, pain medications, antihistamines, and sleeping pills.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Acetaminophen

Common brand names include:

  • Actamin
  • Banesin
  • Tylenol

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

Common brand names include:

  • Advil
  • Excedrin IB
  • Motrin
  • Nuprin

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 medicine 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

Common brand names include:

  • Aleve
  • Naprosyn
Naprosyn is similar to ibuprofen both in action and in side effects.

Special Considerations

Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

  • Take them as directed—not more, not less, not at a different time.
  • Do not stop taking them without consulting your doctor.
  • Don’t share them with anyone else.
  • Know what effects and side effects to expect, and report them to your doctor.
  • If you are taking more than one drug, even if it is over-the-counter, be sure to check with a physician or pharmacist about drug interactions.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.