Our jaws have the ability to close and open, which enables us to eat, yawn and speak. However when the joint that connects the jaw to the skull (temporomandibular joint or TMJ) is damaged our ability to perform these functions reduces. Some of the common symptoms of TMJ include:
- Grinding, clicking or popping sounds in the jaw
- Stiff jaw muscles
- Jaw pain
- Other kinds of facial pain
Natural Remedies in the House That Help TMJ
- Use heat or cold therapy
When you feel a sharp pain in your jaw joints, you should apply a pair of ice packs. The cold will numb your nerves, and as a result dull the pain messages sent to your brain. Wrap ice packs in thin towels and then hold them on the sides of your face for around ten minutes. Repeat every 2 hours as required.
If you are experiencing a dull, steady ache rather than a sharp pain, applying warm heat packs is better than using ice packs. Heat relaxes jaw muscles and increases the circulation of blood to the area. You should heat the warm heat packs and then hold them to your face for around twenty minutes.
Tumeric is flavorful relative of ginger that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. In a 2007 scientific study, the powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric, known as curcumin, was found to substantially improve inflammation, pain and swelling, without any harmful side effects.
Curcumin selectively blocks the enzymes that contribute to the painful symptoms of TMJ disorder, and has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent that helps in joint pain.
- TMJ exercises
Find 2 five-minute periods every day and perform the following exercise while sitting upright in a chair.
- Close your mouth and let your lower and upper teeth touch, without clenching them. You should then rest the tip of your tongue on your palate, just behind your upper teeth.
- While keeping your together, you should run the tip of your tongue backwards toward your soft palate.
- Gently force your tongue back so that it maintains contact with your soft palate. You should then open your mouth slowly until you feel that your tongue is being pulled away.
- Maintain this position for five seconds before closing your mouth so that you can relax.
- Slowly but firmly repeat this process for 5 minutes. When you are opening your mouth, you should feel the tension in the back of your neck and under your chin. However you shouldn’t hear any noise or clicks from your jaw joints. If you do, you should restart until the exercise is click free.
- Nutrition and Supplements
The following nutritional tips can help reduce or prevent the symptoms of TMJ disorder:
- Eat soft foods that are high in flavonoids and omega-3 fatty acids. Flavonoids are plant based antioxidants that can help reduce joint pain and are found in foods like cooked vegetables and fruits. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil and flaxseed oil.
- Cut foods into small pieces so that you can chew less. Skip chewy foods, hard, crunchy foods and large or thick bites that require you to open wide.
- Avoid caffeine, saturated fats and fried foods. These foods can increase inflammation.
- DON`T chew gum.
Some natural dietary supplements that may help:
- Calcium and magnesium: may help relax the muscles of the jaw. 99 percent of the calcium in our bodies is stored in our teeth and bones. But the other 1 percent plays a very important role in muscle function and nerve signaling.
- Adequate magnesium is required for good muscle function and it is commonly accepted that a deficiency of magnesium can cause cramping and painful muscle spasms.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin: may decrease pain and help rebuild the cartilage temporomandibular joint, which helps in improving the range of motion.
- Vitamin C: is also used by the body to make cartilage. It may improve range of motion in your joints, including your jaw.
- B Group Complex: This is a large group of eight vitamins, including B12, B9, B7, B6, B5, B3, B2, B1 – that often occur together in food sources and are normally grouped together in supplements. A deficiency in any of the B vitamins can promote stress and cause fatigue, which can worsen the effects of TMJ.
- Wear a bite guard
You should wear a bite guard (also known as a stabilization splint), it will help keep you from clenching or grinding your teeth. Bite guards are normally made of plastic; they fit over your lower and upper teeth, and as a result prevent your teeth from touching.
Bite guards should only be used temporarily (your dentist or doctor can guide you on how often and how long to wear it). If the bite guard starts to change how you bite or causes an increase in your pain you should stop using it immediately and contact your doctor.