How to Treat TMJ Pain Naturally?

The temporomandibular joint is the joint that attaches the lower jaw to the upper part of the face that is the skull. They’re also responsible for facilitating essential activities like facilitating the process of talking and eating.

What causes TMJ disorder?

Excessive stress, inflammation, infection, or maybe arthritis are some of the several causes of TMJ disorder. While performing activities like chewing, talking, and even yawning- TMJ pain might get triggered and it can make your life quite of a living hell if the necessary remedies and precautions are not taken.

Exercises for TMJ pain

Here are a few TMJ pain relief methods you can follow at home if the pain is quite bearable:

You can do a few TMJ exercises and stretches

With a few facial workouts, you could get relief from chronic TMJ pain. Let’s start by discussing a few:

        Resisted opening exercise

This is a simple exercise where you have to position your thumb under the chin. Then slide the thumb downwards pressing your lower part of the face, and simultaneously opening the mouth. Keeping the mouth open for a few seconds and then gradually closing it. You can repeat this a few times in the morning as soon as you wake up. 

        Resisted closing exercise

You can start this exercise by placing your index finger between the ridge of your lower lip and chin, then putting your thumb under your chin. Then continue closing your mouth gently, massaging and pressing your thumb.

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Wear a bite guard at night

This remedy works the best when TMJ pain is caused by grinding your teeth at night or having bruxism. Wearing a bite guard or a night guard available at the drug store will take off pressure from your TMJ joints and give you pain relief if.

 Use hot and cold therapy

You can switch between a hot compress and a cold compress when you are actively experiencing TMJ pain.

Applying a hot compress from anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes a day or using an ice pack for the same duration can help you to have instant relief and might relax the jaw muscles. 

Natural painkillers

Natural oral painkillers include meadowsweet, willow bark and kava kava. These can help relax the jaw and reduce pain sensitivity. They also naturally reduce inflammation according to the research.

Switch to soft foods for a few days

Stick to soft foods or liquid foods like soup or mashed potatoes that will act as a muscle relaxant for TMJ because eventually, you are providing a break to your TMJ muscles by avoiding chewing hard or crunchy food items.

 If these home remedies don’t work, what’s the next step?

Dentist treatments

If these home remedies deal with TMJ you might consider visiting your dentist. The dentist might prescribe you one of these treatments:

 1) TMJ bite guard

TMJ bite guard, also known as a TMJ splint is specially made to stop the grinding of teeth and correct your bite. It becomes a facial muscle and TMJ pain relaxant by:

  • Adjusting your teeth and jaw to fix your bite.
  • Preventing clicking and locking of your jaw.
  • This guard is custom-made for the person who needs to wear it.
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Research has shown that a bite guard for TMJ defends the jaw from the possibility to occur in the jaw and head. The only drawback of this is that it does not cure TMJ disorder completely. It just aids the pain.

 2) Surgery on your jaw

In extreme cases, you may require surgery or an arthroscopy.

Your dental surgeon will insert a camera in your jaw to provide a clear view of inside the joints, and then the surgeon may remove tissue or adjust the placement of your joints. 

If your TMJ pain problem is persistent and unbearable, please visit the dentist, as the pain might cause severe TMJ headaches and sometimes accompany fever as well.

References:

1.      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859913/

2.      https://www.aafp.org/afp/2015/0315/p378.html

3.      https://www.ijphy.org/index.php/journal/article/view/62

4. https://www.healthresource4u.com/tmj-temporomandibular-joint-disorders.html

Shen Chao

Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Smile Clinic. While working for the Smile Clinic, he's gained first hand experiences into the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he's not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or enjoying a Sunday with friends.

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