TMJ is an abbreviation for the Temporomandibular joint. This joint serves as the connection between the jawbone and the skull. It is this joint that allows you the ability to open and close your mouth. The misalignment of the jaw for whatever reason, whether traumatic or otherwise, is what is referred to as a TMJ disorder.
TMJ disorders cause pain to radiate in your jaw bone, and this affects the normal functioning of the muscles that allow the movement of the jaw. Since the joint is located close to the ear, this pain may affect the face, the ears, neck and forehead.
Other symptoms of TMJ disorder include a popping sound whenever you open or close your mouth, ringing in the ears, locking of the jaw (this often occurs after yawning widely), dizziness and blurred vision. Some patients will report pain in the shoulders and headaches.
To ascertain the occurrence of TMJ disorder, medical doctors will often study one’s medical history as there is no particular set of tests for TMJ diagnosis.In some cases, this requires medical attention from specialized quarters such as ENT doctors, dentists who have taken up specialization in jaw disorders as well as maxillofacial doctors.
Medical options available for the treatment of TMJ disorders may involve surgical intervention, the use of antibiotics as well as pain killers. These options are not without their side effects, which is why home remedies offer a better option in the management of this condition. If however, there is no improvement within a couple of weeks of using the natural remedies, it is important to seek professional medical help.
1. Stay Hydrated: Ensure You Drink Enough Water:
Time Required: Staggered through out the day.
What You Need: At least 150 oz. of water (roughly 8 glasses of water).
Dehydration is known to be one of the contributing factors of worsening pain in the mandibular joints. The simple reason for this is that when the body lacks water, it manifests this through cramping in the neck and shoulder regions. For this reason, if you are susceptible to TMJ disorders, it helps to stay hydrated by staggering your water intake through out the day.
Note, however, that you have to be careful with this remedy. Do not drink excessive amounts of water within a short period of time as this could easily lead to water poisoning in the body. A general guide in the use of this remedy would be to space out your glasses of water after about 2 hours in the daytime.
- Simply drink your water throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
2. Improve Your Diet by Increasing Your Daily Intake of Calcium and Magnesium:
Time Required: Varies depending on the particular food prepared.
What You Need: Foods rich in Calcium and Magnesium.
Nutrition play an elemental role in the home treatment of TMJ disorder. Proper nutrition without any nutrient deficiencies is the first line of defense against TMJ pain. Calcium and Magnesium are both singled out in this regard for the stark roles they play. Calcium is known to strengthen the bones (of which the mandibular jaw is no exception) while the Magnesium present prevents the muscles from tightening since such tension typically worsens the symptoms of TMJ.
In addition to this, the Magnesium present in food also aids in a number of the metabolic reactions required for the intake of calcium. On average, you require 310 mg of Magnesium daily, an amount which typical staple food does not provide. Some of the foods that are rich in Magnesium, and which you must consider adding to your diet include flax, almonds, pumpkin, spinach and oatmeal. Low fat yogurt is also an excellent source of Magnesium, so feel free to include this in your daily diet.
To increase your dietary Calcium intake, make sure you meet and surpass the 10 grams of the required daily levels. Some of the foods that are rich in Calcium include milk, unpolished rice , spinach, cabbages and wheat flour whose husks have not been eliminated. Add Calcium-rich fruits such as oranges, coconut and bananas to your daily diet. In addition to these foods, it helps to avoid junk food as this depletes the body of its essential nutrients while worsening the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders.
- Simply prepare the different foods as you normally would, only increase their amounts to meet the daily requirements.
3. Cold Compress:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A plastic zipper bag, ice cubes, and a clean towel. Frozen peas may be used in place of the ice cubes.
The application of cold compress to the affected jaw as well as the neck region is a simple yet effective home remedy for the treatment of TMJ disorder. The low temperatures help provide you relief from the radiating pain while minimizing the frequency of associated symptoms. This remedy includes the wrapping of the ice pack in a clean towel as described in the directions below. The reason behind this is to prevent the risk of frostbite as is the case when the ice is applied directly to the affected region.
- Fill the zipper bag with the ice cubes or frozen peas before closing it.
- Wrap the bag with the clean towel before placing the pack on your affected jaw.
- After about 2 minutes, transfer the ice pack to your neck. Repeat this for as long as you are comfortable.
- Empty the ice cubes/peas once they start to melt. Use this remedy at least thrice a day to ensure that you get relief from the pain of TMJ.
4. Hot Massage Sessions:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Hot water, hot water bottle, and a clean towel.
Hot massage has long been used been used to relax muscles, and this makes it an effective remedy against TMJ disorders. When this remedy is applied on the affected joint, it eases pain in the muscle. Consequently, this provides you relief from TMJ pain and makes the condition far more manageable. This remedy has no side effects, and is the go-to choice for many who suffer from TMJ and are looking for a simple yet powerful home remedy.
- Fill the hot water bottle with the water and wrap in a clean towel.
- Massage your jaws, shoulders and neck in intervals using the hot water bottle.
- Make sure you replace the water once it becomes warm and has reduced efficiency. Use this remedy thrice daily to get relief from TMJ pain.
5. A Variety of Jaw exercises:
Time Required: Between 15 and 30 Min for the different exercises.
What You Need: A comfortable place and mirror.
The jaw exercises recommended below are part of the holistic TMJ treatment that ensures you get relief from TMJ as well as reduce the pain and eventually place you on the road to recovery from TMJ. When these exercises are carried out alongside relaxation techniques (indicated in subsequent remedies) and nutritional improvements, they constitute a multi-pronged attack against TMJ. Below are the directions for each of the different exercises.
Jaw exercise 1:
- Open your mouth to the widest point as at where you do not feel any pain.
- While your mouth is still open, gently shift your jaw to the left and let it stay in position for 15 seconds.
- Return your jaw to the mid-position before shifting it in the opposite direction to the right, again holding in position for 15 seconds.
- Return your jaw to the mid-position once more before closing your mouth. Repeat this procedure at least thrice daily to ease the pain and stress on the jaws.
Jaw exercise 2:
- Sit upright and move your chin upwards and downwards for a couple of minutes.
- Halt the chin movements for a minute before moving it sideways for another couple of minutes.
- Repeat this exercise twice at a go and severally through out the day. Take caution not to move your chin too rapidly or forcefully as this could easily strain the muscles in your neck, thus compounding the problem.
Jaw exercise 3:
- Open your mouth as wide as you can when you yawn, but to the point where you do not feel pain.
- Close your mouth and pause for a minute or two.
- Yawn once more, only that this time you will yawn with your mouth half wide.
- Use this remedy twice daily until you get relief from TMJ pain.
Jaw Exercise 4:
- Use the index finger of your right hand and map the outline of your jaw on the right side.
- Massage the jaw muscles at this position as gently as you can in firm downward motions.
- Repeat step 2 on the left side using your index finger. Carry out this jaw exercise at least twice daily.
Jaw exercise 5:
- Open your mouth to its widest point as far as you do not feel any pain.
- While your mouth is still wide open, stretch your tongue so that it touches the palate (this is the roof of your mouth).
- At this point, try to roll your tongue backwards (in the direction of your tonsils).
- Hold your tongue in this position for about 10 seconds.
- Roll your tongue outwards and stretch it as far as you can before holding in this position for another 10 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise 4 times in one sitting and severally through out the day.
Jaw exercise 6:
- Stand upright before your mirror and hold your chin with both hands to offer a stable support system.
- Open your mouth wide and attempt to touch your palate with your tongue.
- While the tongue is still in this position, move your jaws upwards and downwards gently, all the while using your hands to offer resistance of sorts.
- Repeat this exercise twice at a go, and then at least thrice daily to ease the pain in the jaws.
6. Lifestyle Changes That Eliminate Stress From Daily Life:
Time Required: Typically a few minutes
What You Need: A positive attitude to learn what works for you and what does not.
Lifestyle changes may not provide obvious changes within a day or two, but have the advantage of long-term benefits that overall reduce the likelihood of TMJ pain. As with other natural remedies, these lifestyle changes involve finding out what offers the greatest pain relief and sticking to it. At the onset, you may need subtle reminders to keep the lifestyle changes in check, but once the effects start to show improvements (no matter how small), it then becomes easier to make the healthier changes a part of your daily life.
- Steer clear of chewing gum and hard candy as this aggravates TMJ disorders. Instead, settle for a variety of soft foods that are gentle on your jaws. For the same reason, you need to avoid tough foods.
- It helps to cut back on your caffeine intake especially if you love your regular cup of coffee. The caffeine has a tendency to increase tension in your muscles through severe dehydration.
- Avoid sugar and sugary products since these not only worsen inflammation, they also lead to poor immune response which then makes TMJ disorders unbearable.
- Lower your alcohol intake since increased alcohol worsens the grinding of teeth. For many people with TMJ, this causes far much greater pain and is therefore not worth your imbibing.
- Lastly, consume small meals at a go to ensure that your blood sugars do not fluctuate as this has been shown to trigger the grinding of teeth.
- Take up relaxation techniques to ease the stress of daily living. Whether this is through brisk walking or jogging in the woods, the choice is yours. Additionally, there are relaxation exercises that you can indulge in to keep the stress at bay. Some of thee exercises include:
i) Proper breathing routines. Simply lie down face upwards, put your right hand on the chest and your left hand on the abdomen. Relax for a couple of minutes before taking deep breaths and slow exhalation. Repeat this up to 10 times at a go.
ii) Alternatively, sit upright and open your mouth while tilting your head backwards so that you are facing the sky. Take a deep breath and exhale as slowly as you can. Resume your original position and repeat the entire process.