Struggling with pains from TMJ can really take a toll on your well-being. Fortunately, various treatments can give you relief from the pain, but the most effective are the natural remedies for TMJ. Therefore, if you want to try some natural remedies for TMJ disorders, the ones given in this post can potentially provide you with pain relief from headaches and jaw pain.
Table of Contents
In this post, you will learn the following:
- Meaning of TMJ
- Symptoms of TMJ
- Causes of TMJ
- Risk factors associated with TMJ
- Diagnosing TMJ
- Conventional treatment for TMJ
- Natural remedies for TMJ
What is TMJ Disorder?
The full meaning of TMJ is the temporomandibular joint, which acts as a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. There are two joints around the jawbone – one on each side of the head. These joints make the jaw move up and up, side to side, and they also allow you to open and close your mouth. The TMJ disorder can occur when the jawbones do not correctly align. However, several factors determine the exact cause of the TTMJ disorder, such as jaw injury history, dental work history, genetics, arthritis, and stress.
Some people who suffer from jaw pain may also grind or clench their teeth (bruxism), but many people habitually grind or clench their teeth and never develop TMJ disorders. In most cases, the discomfort and pain associated with TMJ disorders are temporary, and you can get relief from it through nonsurgical treatments or self-managed care. However, surgery is often the last resort when conservative measures do not give proper relief. You should first consider natural remedies for TMJ disorders.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
The signs and symptoms of the temporomandibular joint may include the following:
- Locking of the joint, causing difficulty in opening or closing of the mouth
- Aching facial pain
- Pain while chewing or difficulty chewing
- Pain existing in one or both of the TMJ
- Tenderness or pain in the jaw
- Limitation of movement
- Fatigue, dizziness
- Neurological issues, vision problems, headaches/migraines
- Earache, ringing in the ear
- Pain in the shoulders or neck
Even though TMJ may come and go without treatment, some people have complained daily about dealing with chronic pain. Disorders from TMJ may cause a grating sensation or clicking sound when you chew or open your mouth. However, if you suffer no pain or limitation of movement connected with your jaw clicking, you probably require no treatment for a TMJ disorder.
Seek medical help if you feel persistent pain or experience tenderness in your jaw or cannot open and close your mouth properly. A TMJ specialist, your dentist, or your doctor can discuss with you possible causes and treatment for the condition.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
The TMJ combines a hinge action with rolling and sliding motions. A part of the bones that interact in the joint is covered with cartilage, and a small shock-absorbing disk separates them – the disk and the cartilage usually keep the movement of the joints smooth.
TMJ disorders can arise if:
- The disk moves out of its normal alignment, or it erodes
- Arthritis damages the joint’s cartilage
- A hard blow or other impact damages the joint
In many cases, people hardly identify the real cause of TMJ disorders.
Risk Factors Associated with TMJ Disorders
Factors that may trigger the possibility of having TMJ disorders include the following:
- Certain connective tissues disease result in problems that may affect the TMJ
- Chronic and long-term clenching or grinding of teeth
- Jaw injury
- Various kinds of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Diagnosing TMJ Disorders
Your dentist, TMJ specialist, or doctor will discuss your symptoms with you, and they will examine your jaw. The doctor will probably:
- Press down on the areas around your jaw to determine the sites of discomfort or pain
- Observe the range of motion and activity in your jaw
- Listen to and feel your jaw as you open and close your mouth
If your doctor suspects any TMJ issue, you may have:
- An MRI to identify problems with the surrounding soft tissue or the joint’s disk
- A CT scan to provide detailed images of the bones associated with the joint
- Dental X-rays to check your teeth and jaw
Doctors sometimes use TMJ arthroscopy to diagnose a TMJ disorder. During the procedures involving TMJ arthroscopy, your doctor will insert a small thin tube, known as a cannula, into the joint space. Then they will insert a small camera (arthroscope) to view the area and ultimately help determine a diagnosis.
Conventional Treatment for TMJ Disorders
In some cases, the symptoms arising from TMJ disorders may disappear without treatment. Therefore, you may consult your doctor only when your symptoms persist. In that case, your physician may recommend a series of treatment options – and you may go through more than one treatment process at the same time.
Along with other nonsurgical treatments, the following medication options may help relieve pain that involves TMJ disorders:
- Pain reliever and anti-inflammatories
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Muscle relaxants
Some therapies for TMJ disorders may require no drugs; therefore, nondrug treatments include the following:
- Mouthguards or oral splints (occlusal appliances)
- Physical therapy
Surgical and Other Procedures
When other treatment methods do not seem to work, your doctor might suggest some procedures like:
- Arthrocentesis: This involves the insertion of a small needle into the joint to remove debris and inflammatory byproducts.
- Injections: Injecting botulinum toxin type A into the joint muscles may relieve pain.
- TMJ Arthroscopy: The doctor places a cannula into the joint space, then inserts an arthroscope while using other small surgical instruments for surgery.
- Modified Condylotomy: This directly addresses the TMJ, and it is helpful when a person experience pain or locking.
- Open-join Surgery: When more conservative treatment methods do not resolve the pain from your jaw, and it seems like a structural problem in the joint is the cause, your doctor may perform an open-joint surgery to replace or repair the joint. However, there are more risks associated with open-joint surgery than any other surgical procedure.
13 Natural Remedies for TMJ Disorders
If you suffer from consistent pain in the jaw due to TMJ disorders, then these natural remedies for TMJ may be precisely what you need:
Clove is an oral infection fighter, antiseptic, and anesthetic. It also serves as a mild sedative. In addition, most dentists recommend clove as a dental pain reliever. Therefore, for your TMJ disorder, you should chew enough cloves to relieve gum swelling due to TMJ pain. You can also brew the plant as tea or cook it with your food. Clove is also available as an essential oil, which is quite as effective as the plant.
Calendula is an antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory herb. It is pretty strong and has effective healing potential. It can also kill bacteria that can cause everything from gingivitis to cavities. You can use calendula as tea, grind it into powder, or make an essential oil out of it.
Rosemary is a herb that contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It enhances memory and gives neurological protection. Rosemary can also increase the effectiveness of antibiotics by weakening the cell walls of bacteria that resist antibiotics, therefore allowing the antibiotics to enter them. Rosemary is effective as a tea, cooked in food, or as an essential oil.
4. Rose Petals
Rose petals are nourishing and gentle flowers, even though they contain astringent properties. They are effective for overall health. Rose petals also help moisten, tone, and protect the gums. The herb also helps in drying out extra mucus in the body. You can brew rose petals as tea.
5. Kava Kava
Kava kava contains diuretic, narcotic, anesthetic, and antiseptic properties. You can chew the herb to relieve throat pain because it produces a numbing effect on the throat and tongue when chewed. Also, it can help relieve the pain in your jaw due to KMJ disorders. Although kava may not cure KMJ disorders, it will indeed reduce the pain that comes with the condition.
6. Eat Soft Foods
One of the best, most effective, and safest ways to get relief from TMJ disorders is by eating softer foods. When you eat soft foods, your jaw will not have to work extensively to chew. Your jaw experiences less stress and less pressure when you chew less. Soft foods will give your jaw a break to allow the inflammation to reduce. Maintain a soft diet for several weeks to see if it will help relieve any of your symptoms.
7. Learn Stress Management
Stress may be one of the significant causes of TMJ disorders. When some people become stressed, they tend to clench their jaw all day long without even noticing it. If you feel stressed, you can relieve that feeling by taking a daily walk to clear your head. You can journal about your problems, meditate, take a bubble bath, or talk to a therapist. Do whatever you can to help you unwind or experience some stress relief.
8. Wear a Bite Guard
One of the surest, most accessible, safest, and most effective natural remedies for TMJ disorders is by wearing a bite guard; this will reduce pressure from your TMJ when you grind or clench your teeth. Wear it on your top and bottom teeth because they prevent the teeth from touching when wearing the guard. Consult your dentist to know if a bite guard is the best treatment option for you.
9. Limit Jaw Movements
If you find that you yell quite often, sing at the top of your voice, or constantly yawn, your jaw may suffer some strain. Try to reduce any extreme jaw movements in your life to give your TMJ a rest from the activity. The break can help relieve some of the pain you feel.
10. Try Massage Therapy or Acupuncture
Many sufferers of TMJ disorders do not know that acupuncture can provide relief to the pain they feel. An acupuncturist will insert needles in areas close to the jaw, as well as other areas, to provide you with improved jaw function, ease pain, and make it easier for you to open your mouth. Massaging the TMJ throughout the day can help relax the muscles around the jaw and provide pain relief.
11. Use Heat or Cold Therapy
You can switch between hot or cold therapy on your jaw. Place a damp heat pack on your jaw for a quarter of an hour and a few times each day. You can switch this therapy between hot or cold for the best result. Sometimes the disorder may require a cold environment to heal on time, and other times it may be the heat that will reduce the inflammation resulting from the disorder. In any case, both hot and cold therapies are some of the most effective natural remedies for TMJ disorders.
12. Practice Good Posture
A simple way to ease pain resulting from TMJ disorders is to make a reasonable effort to improve your posture. Whether seated or standing on your feet, a focus on spinal alignment can move you a few steps closer to reduced jaw pain and improved posture. Here are some simple ways you can maintain a good posture:
- Sit erect and upright with lumbar support
- Engage in realignment exercise
- Sleep on your back with a pillow that is TMJ-friendly
13. Go for Regular Checkups
TMJ disorders are behind a lot of dental issues. For instance, if you frequently clench or grind your teeth, you may expose your enamel, resulting in jaw muscle pain and teeth sensitivity. Therefore, always ensure that you keep your oral health in check. Consult your dentist regularly to address dental issues before they become severe and lead to TMJ disorders.
If your TMJ pain persists after trying the natural remedies for TMJ disorders, then you should see your dentist immediately. A specialist in treating TMJs will recommend advanced treatment strategies that will effectively help reduce tension in the ligaments and muscles.