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TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders) seems not to be a strange problem. This condition causes pain in the jaw joint. Pain or dysfunction of the TMJ is sometimes referred to as temporomandibular joint disorder or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). When you eat or talk with your mouth open wide, you hear some noise in the area of joints in front of ears, which is the first symptom of TMJ. TMJ is not a serious disease but makes many difficulties and pains in daily life. But don’t worry, we are here to help you. Today, we will introduce the best time-tested natural home remedies for TMJ symptoms. Check on our site to know more about these natural remedies.
There is no science-based evidence for the following homemade recipes. The recipes we've focused on are traditional home remedies, so always consult your doctor and check out your health condition regularly to know if a remedy is working for you.
Medically reviewed/fact checked by Dr. Sarah Brewer MSc, MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, RNutr, MBANT, CNHC:
Top 9 Natural Home Remedies For TMJ Symptoms
I. Causes Of TMJ
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are the two joints connecting the jawbone to the skull. The parts of the bones, which interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and are also divided by a small absorption disk that keeps the movements smooth. Some factors cause TMJ, including:
- The joint disk is lowered or moved in its proper alignment.
- Joint injury by another blow or impact.
- The cartilage of the joints is damaged by arthritis.
- Overwork may lead to fatigue in the muscles of the joint, which can happen if the patients regularly grind teeth together.
- The leading cause of TMJ can be teeth grinding. When you often grind your teeth, the jaw muscle must work very quickly, causing hurt to the jaw muscle.
However, in many cases, the reason for temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) is unclear.
II. Natural Home Remedies For TMJ Symptoms
1. Change Your Lifestyle
TMJ disorders can stem from the abnormal structure of the temporomandibular joint, however, many cases of TMJ disorders are caused by bad habits in your daily life, making the inflammation of joints or the damage of the cartilage. Therefore, you should have a proper change in your habits to treat this disease.
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- Give your mouth a rest: Overworking of jaw muscle is the main reason for TMJ. Therefore, people with habits of chewing gum, biting nails, pens, and pencils always have a higher risk of TMJ. Stop these habits immediately to protect your mouth from constant impulsive actions.
- Use the phone correctly: Nowadays, phones become the constant companion of many people. While doing much work at the same time, some people have a habit of holding the phone between shoulders and cheeks, which puts a lot of stress and discomfort on your neck and jaw, causing TMJ. Hence, you should get a headset when answering a phone call.
- Small yawn: Yawn is a normal reflex of human bodies, so stop yawning is impossible. However, a big yawn can cause pain when you are suffering from TMJ, you can also realize the popping sound and a sudden hurt when you open your wide mouth. Therefore, we advise you to open your mouth small when you yawn to avoid pain.
- Reduce your stress and anxiety: Some people under stress and anxiety clench their jaw frequently, which causes TMJ pains. For that reason, reducing stress by looking for a better life balance, more rest, or seeking treatment for anxiety are good methods to treat TMJ disorders.
- Avoid caffeine and stimulants: You should stop the habit of drinking stimulants such as alcoholic beverages, coffee to have a better night without grinding your teeth. Instead, you should try decaffeinated coffee or tea, or herbal tea to relax in the evening.
- Change sleep style: If you are having jaw pain, you need to avoid lying on one side while sleep. Instead, you should lie on your back, as this helps relieve pressure on the jaw.
2. Jaw Exercises
Doctors, physical therapists usually advise patients with TMJ disorders to take jaw exercises to stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles. Here are some exercises possibly suitable for you:
- Relaxed jaw exercise: Let your tongue gently rest on the top of your mouth behind your upper front teeth and your lower jaw lows down apart.
- Goldfish exercises (partly opening): Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and one finger on the position of TMJ. Put your pointer finger on the chin. Then, drop your lower jaw halfway and close your mouth. Repeat the exercise six times per set and one set a day.
- Goldfish exercises (full opening): Do the same of the second exercise but instead of drop your jaw partly, you drop it completely. Also, repeat the exercise 6 times per set and one set a day.
- Chin tucks: Pull your chin straight back to form a “double chin.” with your shoulders back and chest up. Hold for 3 seconds and repeat the exercise 10 times.
- Tongue up: Let your tongue touch the roof of your mouth, then slowly open and close your mouth.
- Side-to-side jaw movement: Put a ¼ inch object like stacked tongue depressors between the front teeth, and gradually move the jaw from side to side.
- Forward jaw movement: Also put a ¼ inch object between your front teeth and move the bottom jaw forward so the bottom teeth are in front of the top teeth.
3. Gentle Massage
Gentle massages can help to your jaw muscles relax, improve blood circulation to the affected areas; hence, they may assist you in dealing with TMJ disorders. Here are some special therapies you can do at home:
- Kneading Massage: Put your 2-3 fingers on the corner of your mouth, then massage by pressing your fingers on the jaw muscles in a circular motion back to your ears until you feel a flat plane of bone. This warms your muscles and improves lymph function.
- Friction Massage: Mandible muscles are the lower portion of your jaw just below the masseter, found along your jawline, and friction massage works well on this muscle. Use your fingers and touch the mandible, then press this area gently and constantly.
- Stretching Massage: Put your 2 thumbs parallel to your jawline, above the mandible muscles. Press on this muscle and drag your thumbs down again your jaw, stretch this muscle slowly away from your upper jaw.
Try to apply this remedy daily to increase blood circulation, reduce swelling, relieve pain, and bring you comfort.
4. Hot And Cold Compress
A cold compress and hot compress are used for many pains and injuries related to muscles due to the ability to boost blood circulation. When you apply this remedy, the jaw muscles can relax, the blood flow in the TMJ areas can be improved, which can treat the joint inflammation, reduce the symptoms of TMJ. Many doctors and physical therapists have advised their patients to apply this method. Brijesh Chandwani, professor at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, has said: “Warm compresses over the jaw, temples, and neck region for 10 to 12 minutes about two times daily can allow the muscles to relax and the symptoms to reduce,” and “Ice application can reduce muscle spasm.”.
How to do:
- Prepare a warm water bottle and wrap it with a warm towel.
- Apply it on your TMJ in about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Alternatively, use ice wrapped in a towel or gel cold packs and apply to the affected areas as a cold compress.
- Combining two kinds of compresses is also good for your TMJ. You can use the cold pack in first 10 minutes and a warm pack for the last 5 minutes.
Try to use this remedy daily to see the improvement.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for normal body functions and the normal maintenance of muscles and bones. It helps to control the inflammatory conditions, nourish muscles, bones, and tendons around the TMJ. The body doesn’t produce magnesium naturally, so the outside intake of magnesium is the only way to help human bodies have enough magnesium. You can supplement your body with magnesium by natural foods such as nuts, beans, legumes, seeds (pumpkin seeds) and most green vegetables (spinach) as well as whole grains and even some shellfish and spices.
Omega-3 plays an important role in maintaining the proper functions of bodies, decreasing inflammation that damages your body. Since then, it helps to deal with many different types of diseases and illnesses such as TMJ. There are many ways to supplement your body with omega-3, including:
- Fish: mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies
- Chia seeds
You can add such food in your daily meals. Besides, you can also use fish oil instead, but remember to ask for doctor’s advice in advance.
7. Eating Soft Food
If you have TMJ disorders, it hurts when you frequently use your jaws, or you put too much stress on them. Therefore, a soft diet in 5 to 7 days could help to reduce symptoms of TMJ. Soft foods are also recommended for people who have teeth health problems, or jaw pain and surgery. Here are lists of foods that you should eat and should avoid.
What to eat:
- White bread
- Mashed potatoes
- Soft fruits: avocados, bananas, mangoes, etc.
- Fruit and vegetable juice.
- White rice, white bread
- Cheese or cottage cheese
What to avoid:
- Any large food that makes your mouth open very wide.
- Hard or crunchy foods, pretzels, apples, or raw carrots
- Sticky or chewy items, such as candy bars or caramel apples.
- Crunchy cereals
- Tough steak
8. Wear A Bite Guard
A bite guard or a so-called stabilization splint is a treatment to prevent people from grinding or clenching their teeth. Bite guards are made of plastic so that they fit over your lower and upper teeth, and prevent your teeth from touching.
It’s not easy to buy a splint that fit your teeth. You have to pay a visit to your dentist to check the symptoms and diagnostic tests (X-rays, etc.) so that the dentist can help you find a suitable bit guard. This appliance can help improve your bite, reduce the stress on your two jaws, and treat TMJ disorders.
As mentioned before, TMJ disorders can go with inflammation, and it could be more serious if there is no proper treatment. Therefore, in this case, have some drugs on doctors’ prescription is necessary. Many people have a habit of going to the drugstore for some anti-inflammatory drugs when they have pains. However, we advise you to visit your doctor to find out drugs suitable for the intensity of the disorder and medical history.
Besides, there is one thing that you should keep in mind that TMJ disorders can be prevented. Therefore, visit your dentist frequently to find out any problems, follow his instructions to stay away from TMJ.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) play an important role in the daily activities of your mouth; therefore, don’t ignore any strange symptoms and pains in this area. Above are the most effective natural solutions for TMJ relief that we home you to know. Follow them without fail to have the best results. All content provided are for informational & educational purposes. We recommend you consult a healthcare professional to determine which method is appropriate for you.