Breaking Down the Best Natural Remedies for TMJ
Most people feel surprised when they learn that they activate the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) in their lower jaw over 1,000 times per day. The movements of these joints make it possible to eat, speak, laugh, yawn, and complete many other functions. Inflammation of these joints as well as the connective tissues and muscles that surround them cause a painful condition known as TMJ disorder. Over 10 million Americans have this condition. The most common symptoms associated with it include:
- A popping or clicking sound of the joints when opening the jaw wide
- Aching neck
- Difficulty with speaking, chewing, or yawning
Although the most frequent cause of TMJ disorder is unconscious grinding of the teeth at night, it can also come on due to arthritis of the jaw, misaligned teeth, or even frequent chewing of gum. The good news is that people who suffer from TMJ may be able to find relief with one of several natural remedies.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Rich in Minerals
One way to lessen the discomfort of TMJ is to eat foods that don’t inflame the joints. Here are some to consider on the next trip to the grocery store:
- Foods that don’t require a lot of chewing such as cooked vegetables, smoothies, soups, steamed vegetables, and stews
- Foods with a large concentration of magnesium
- Protein shakes
- Smaller meals than usual
- Wild-caught fish with Omega 3
It’s also important to avoid certain foods and drinks when trying to recover from TMJ disorder. Those that top the list include alcohol, anything containing caffeine, caramel, gum, sugared foods and drinks, and tough meats that are difficult to chew.
Visit an Alternative Healthcare Practitioner
Medical professionals that don’t offer prescription drugs as a first-line defense against pain can be a good choice when it comes to the treatment of TMJ. Acupuncture, which involves the insertion of tiny needles at the pain points, helps to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation. Massage inside and outside of the mouth releases the tension that could be causing TMJ disorder in the first place. Finally, a physical therapist can prescribe range of motion exercises for the jaw that help to alleviate discomfort as well as restore the jaw’s proper function.
Chinese Herbal Medicine and Cupping
Consuming Chinese herbs helps to reduce the stress that can cause some people to subconsciously grind their teeth. It also provides nourishment for the body’s deficiencies that could lead to stagnation of the blood flow channels as well as pain.
Cupping, a medical modality used in China, pulls toxins out of the jaw muscles by using a suction force. The toxins are responsible for causing the muscles to become tense and tight in the first place. Although some people experience minor bruising after cupping, they consider it a small price to pay for the relief that this increasingly popular TMJ treatment option brings them.
Many people find significant relief from TMJ disorder with these methods. Most dentists recommend conservative at-home approaches for dealing with the discomfort as well. The use of a mouthguard at night is an especially common dental treatment.