Do you find it difficult to open your mouth? Does your jaw ever randomly lock up, feel sore, or tight? Do you find yourself grinding your teeth on a regular basis? These are just a few signs that you may be suffering from temporomandibular joint syndrome, or TMJ.
TMJ is caused when the temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects your jaw to your skull, is injured or damaged, and it will often lead to a lot of pain in that area. An estimated 10 million Americans are affected by a TMJ disorder, but many people do not pursue treatment. However, we highly recommend seeking treatment. In fact, TMJ can lead to severe health problems including: bone damage, muscle atrophy, tooth loss, and even malnourishment. Dr Nathan French of French Family dentistry has years of experience in helping people who suffer from TMJ issues. We have listed a few home remedies to help decrease your TMJ issues, but if your problems persist, or your pain becomes unbearable, please do not hesitate to book an appointment with us.
Before we move into solutions, you might be wondering what causes TMJ. Below are a list of common causes:
- Grinding or clenching of teeth, which places too much pressure on your joint
- Damage to jaw
Not sure if you have TMJ? Here are some common symptoms:
- Pain or tenderness in your face, your jaw, head, and even down into your neck and shoulders.
- Difficulty when you attempt to open your mouth up wide
- Jaw clicking/popping or getting stuck
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurry vision
- Sore Throat
So now you may be freaking out that you have TMJ, but calm down it’s a very manageable issue, and with the three steps below, we think you will see results and a decrease in TMJ issues:
- Targeted Exercises in the jaw area
When you wake up in the morning, take 5-10 minutes to “warm up” your jaw and performs some stretches. One great method includes placing a stack of popsicle sticks in your mouth- opening your jaw up nice and wide as it can go, and letting it sit there for a minute or two. This is a great stretch for your jaw. Another great exercise is to take your index and middle finger of boths hands and massage your jaw. Put small amounts of pressure on the end of your jaw with your finger, and rub in a circular motion (one minute clockwise, and one minute counterclockwise).
For more exercises, click here: TMJ exercises
2. Get enough rest, and reduce stress
We know this is easier said than done, but stress is often one of the leading causes of TMJ related issues. Find ways to cool down and relax, whether that be exercising, reading, meditating, listening to music, or simply enjoying a quiet morning. If you are having trouble sleeping, we recommend reducing the amount of caffeine in your diet, exercising, and maybe even getting a more supportive pillow.
3. Changing diet
Inflammation around the jaw joints can greatly be reduced with a specially planned diet. This is not a permanent solution, but while you are experiencing inflammation and TMJ pain, focus on eating softer foods (soups, stews, smoothies, steamed vegetables, etc.), instead of hard ones, which cause the jaw to work harder- eventually causing more damage and inflammation. Look for foods and beverages that are high in anti-inflammatory benefits, omega-3s, and collagen, and low in caffeine. At all costs, stay away from chewing gum and coffee while you are suffering from TMJ related issues.
TMJ can be a frustrated problem, but we are here to help. If you do not see any progress in your pain or mobility after trying these methods out, please give us a call at (910) 794-5500 so we can get you back to the level of comfort you are searching for!