8 Remedies to Help Manage TMJ Disorder

 Asad A | June 24, 2024

Two of the most intricate joints in your body reside in your head, connecting your lower jaw to your skull. These joints called the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), can be a source of considerable discomfort. Research suggests that between 5% to 12% of adults experience TMJ disorder in some form. Jaw pain associated with TMJ disorder can manifest suddenly and may inexplicably spread to other regions of your head and neck.

At Invisalign Toronto, we understand the challenges this condition can present. Fortunately, there are several remedies you can incorporate into your routine to manage TMJ Disorder effectively. Here are eight remedies to help you find relief and improve your overall well-being.

Various Causes of TMJ Disorder

Your jaw movement is facilitated by the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), allowing you to speak, eat, and even yawn. This joint, comprising muscles, ligaments, and joints on both sides of your jaw, ensures smooth functioning. However, when these components are misaligned, you may experience stiffness and pain in your jaw.

TMJ disorders can stem from various causes, making it crucial not to overlook jaw discomfort regardless of its origin. Some common causes include:

  • Arthritis
  • Infections
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Joint dislocation or injury
  • Placement of a breathing tube before surgery
  • Teeth clenching or grinding during sleep
  • Prolonged mouth opening during dental procedures

According to the TMJ Association, TMJ disorders can also be influenced by genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. Their research highlights that genetic predisposition plays a role in both the onset and treatment of TMJ disorders.

Furthermore, studies have shown a correlation between TMJ disorders and hormonal factors, particularly estrogen, especially among women, including those who are pregnant or trying to conceive. This insight has spurred investigations into the specific roles of female hormones in the development and management of TMJ disorders.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a prevalent condition characterized by pain and discomfort that can affect one or both sides of the face, either temporarily or persistently.

Symptoms can vary widely, ranging from minor joint noises to severe pain and dysfunction. Some individuals may experience difficulties moving their jaws without feeling pain. Common symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Locked jaw
  • Headaches
  • Vision difficulties
  • Tightness in jaw muscles
  • Swelling on one side of the face
  • Limited mouth movements
  • Pain and ringing in the ears
  • Tooth pain unrelated to dental issues
  • Changes in how teeth fit together
  • Pain in the face, jaw, neck, shoulders, and ears

Clicking or popping noises from the jaw when opening or closing the mouth.

These symptoms can significantly impact daily life and require proper diagnosis and management to alleviate discomfort and improve jaw function. If you experience any of these symptoms, consulting with a healthcare provider or a specialist in TMJ disorders is recommended for appropriate evaluation and treatment options.

Remedies to Help You Manage TMJ Disorder

Many individuals experiencing TMJ symptoms have discovered relief through jaw strengthening and stretching exercises. However, if these exercises worsen your pain or discomfort, it's important to discontinue them. It's advisable to consult with a doctor, dentist, or physical therapist before beginning any exercise regimen to ensure it suits your condition.

Apply Cold Packs and Moist Heat

Hot and cold therapies? They both play a crucial role, each offering unique benefits.

Let's begin with cold therapy. "Cold has a numbing effect," experts suggest. "If you experience sudden sharp pain in your jaw, indicating inflammation, applying cold can numb the joint and reduce swelling."

However, if the pain persists beyond a few days, it's time to switch gears and introduce some heat. A warm, moist compress can work wonders for chronic TMJ pain. "I recommend using moist heat compresses at least four times a day," she advises.

Try Gentle Massaging

Massaging your jaw muscles can release tension, especially in trigger points, and promote better coordination between your joints, teeth, and muscles.

Pro tip: Combining massage with a warm compress can enhance its benefits.

Stretch Your Jaw

Like how your body benefits from stretching exercises, your jaw muscles can also benefit. Here's a simple exercise to try:

  • Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
  • Slowly open your mouth as wide as possible while keeping your tongue in contact with the roof of your mouth (this prevents excessive jaw opening).
  • Hold this position for six seconds.
  • Repeat this exercise six times.

The experts suggest performing this stretch four to six times a day to help relax tight jaw muscles and alleviate pain.

Focus on Posture

Poor posture can contribute to various pains, including jaw discomfort. Hunching or slouching can misalign your body, causing your jaw to jut forward and stress your TMJ. The solution? Start with good posture, especially if you spend long hours at a desk. (A chiropractor can provide tips for improving posture.)

Sleep on Your Back

Good posture is crucial during the day and at night. Sleeping on your back helps maintain the natural alignment of your head, neck, and jaw, reducing strain on your TMJ.

However, if you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), sleeping on your back may not be advisable. This position can cause your jaw to fall back, potentially worsening snoring and airway obstruction.

Reduce Stress

Stress can exacerbate jaw tension and TMJ symptoms. Dr. Kahn recommends relaxation techniques such as listening to soothing music or practicing calming breathing exercises to promote a sense of calm. Avoiding screens before bedtime can also aid relaxation.

Avoid Chewy Foods and Gum

If you're experiencing TMJ pain, avoid chewy or tough foods that can strain your jaw muscles further. These include tough meats, bagels, hard fruits, nuts, and chewy candies. Chewing gum should also be limited or avoided, as it can strain your TMJ muscles with repetitive movements.

Consider Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

Short-term use of anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can provide relief from sore TMJ or jaw muscles. However, it's essential to limit use to a week or two and consult a dentist if pain persists beyond that period.

When Should You See a Dentist?

If the techniques mentioned earlier haven't relieved your sore jaw within a few months, it's time to schedule a visit with your dentist or healthcare provider. Consider making the call sooner if headaches, migraines, or dizziness accompany your jaw pain.

Finding a solution could be as straightforward as getting fitted for a "night guard" to reduce the harmful effects of teeth grinding or clenching while you sleep. These habits are a common cause of TMJ problems and can be challenging to control since they occur during sleep.

Your doctor might also recommend physical therapy for your jaw and neck muscles, short-term muscle relaxants or pain relievers, or Botox® injections (botulinum toxin) to alleviate persistent muscle contractions.

Seeking professional advice ensures you receive the appropriate treatment to manage your TMJ symptoms effectively.

Manage TMJ disorder with Invisalign Toronto in Front St. West Toronto

Managing TMJ Disorder requires a comprehensive approach that includes lifestyle changes, home remedies, and professional treatments. Incorporating these eight remedies can alleviate pain, improve jaw function, and enhance your quality of life. If you are experiencing persistent TMJ Disorder symptoms, don't hesitate to seek professional advice and treatment. At Invisalign Toronto, we support you on your journey to better oral health.

For personalized advice and treatment options in Front Street West Toronto, contact us at Invisalign Toronto to schedule a consultation. Your path to relief from TMJ Disorder starts here.

FAQs

What is the newest treatment for TMJ?

BOTOX® injections represent a cutting-edge and highly effective treatment option for TMJ/TMD. Although commonly known for cosmetic enhancements, BOTOX® has successfully alleviated jaw pain and muscle tension linked to TMJ/TMD.

What is the most successful treatment for TMJ?

Dental appliances such as oral splints or mouth guards can help reposition your jaw to a more optimal alignment and mitigate the effects of grinding and clenching. While over-the-counter options are available, obtaining a custom-fitted mouth guard from a dentist is highly recommended for the best results. Additionally, physical therapy can further enhance jaw function and alleviate symptoms.

What is the permanent solution for TMJ?

Certain TMJ disorders may be permanently resolved. Pain caused by clenching and grinding your teeth can often be alleviated through stress management techniques and an oral mouthguard. For severe TMJ issues, such as a dislocated jaw or disc, treatment with oral appliances and, if necessary, surgical intervention may provide a solution.

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