9 Easy and Effective Home Remedies for TMJ Disorder

The TMJ or temporomandibular joint is a type of hinge joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. Disorders of the TMJ or TMD (temporomandibular disorder) may lead to pain in the TMJ and in the muscles which control movement of the jaw. Some individuals with jaw pain also have a tendency to grind or clench their teeth. In most of the cases, the discomfort and pain associated with TMD is temporary and you can manage it with self care and nonsurgical home treatment measures.

TMJ Home Treatment

1. Jaw Exercises

By doing specific exercises of the jaw, you can stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles and reduce symptoms of pain.

Exercise 1: Open the jaw to the maximum width. Gradually move it to the right side. Hold for 10 seconds. Move to the middle. Now gradually move to the left. Hold for another 10 seconds. Move to the middle and now close your mouth. Repeat 4-5 times.

Exercise 2: Use the index finger of the right hand and trace your TMJ on the right. Once you reach there, massage the muscles in a downward direction. Repeat on both the sides for as much time as you like.

Exercise 3: Open the jaw to the maximum width. Take the tip of the tongue upwards and touch the roof of the mouth. Now slide your tongue’s tip backward along the roof of the mouth. Hold for 5 seconds. Now extend the tongue fully out of the mouth, giving it the maximum stretch. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times.

2. Relaxation Exercises

Handling your levels of stress can help in reducing your pain perception, especially with TMD. The following are some of the excellent relaxing exercises for the muscles of the jaw and effective TMJ home treatment.

Exercise 1: Sit with the back straight and open your mouth keeping yourself relaxed. Now, bend the back so that your forehead points to the sky. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Go back to the original position. Repeat.

Exercise 2: Sit straight and bend the head forward so that the chin touches the chest. Now, interlock the fingers of both hands and place them behind the head. Push with your head in the backward direction and resist with the hands. Repeat 3-5 times per day to relax your spinal cord.

Exercise 3: Lie down on the back. Place the left hand on the stomach and right hand on the chest. Relax. Keep breathing normally for as much time as you desire. When you feel that you are ready, take in deep breaths feeling the air passing through the trachea to the belly. Exhale slowly. Repeat 10-20 times.

3. Apply Cold and Hot Packs

If you feel sharp pain in your TMJ, apply cold packs for around 10 minutes on both sides. The nerves are made numb by the cold and the pain messages going to the brain get dull. You can repeat every 2 hours if required.

In case you feel a steady, dull ache instead of a sharp pain, then you should apply hot packs. Heat increases the circulation of blood and relaxes muscles of the jaw. Soak some washcloths in warm water. Apply them to the area for about 20 minutes.

4. Massage the Area

Massaging the area around the jaw joint relieves tightness of muscles and increases blood circulation to the area and is an excellent TMJ home treatment. Open your mouth and rub the muscles near your TMJs until they relax. Close your mouth; repeat the massage. Do it several times in a day.

You can also massage the sore muscles with a forefinger from the inside of the mouth. Massaging the muscles present on the sides of the neck may also reduce tension that causes jaw pain.

5. Maintain Proper Posture

While sitting in a chair, sit straight instead of leaning forward. Make sure that your chin is not angled forward out of your body as it puts strain on your back and neck, leading to jaw pain. Don’t cradle a telephone between your cheek and shoulder as it puts strain on your jaw and neck.

6. Wear a Mouth Guard

If clenching or grinding teeth at night is contributing to your jaw pain, wear a mouth guard. Many inexpensive mouth guards are available at a sports store. You can follow the directions on the package to fit it to your mouth’s size.

7. Change Your Eating Habits

Don’t eat extremely chewy and crunchy foods such as carrots, apples, beef etc. Instead go for pastas, soups and other foods that are easy to eat. Avoid taking big bites. Skip coffee and tea as caffeine can increase tension in muscles. Instead consume decaffeinated drinks.

8. Take Calcium and Magnesium

Add 500 mg of calcium (powdered) and 250 mg of magnesium (powdered) to orange juice and drink in the morning. These minerals promote relaxation of muscles and reduce tension in jaw muscles. They are effective TMJ home treatment.

9. Rest Your Jaw

  • Resist the temptation to yawn by seeing someone yawning as it will cause more pain. If you can’t avoid it, try to open your mouth as less as possible.
  • Don’t chew gum as it tenses the muscles of your jaw.
  • Don’t bite your fingernails or chew a pencil. Find a way that is non-jaw relatedto get rid of your anxiety.
  • Sleep either on your side or on your back. Sleeping on your stomach with head positioned to one side can produce neck strain that can be transferred to the jaw.
  • If you work a lot on desk, take a break of few minutes and meditate. Focus on your neck and face muscles, allowing them to grow slack and relax.
  • Get 20-30 minutes of exercise at least 3-4 times in a week. Exercise not only reduces stress but also helps the body produce endorphins that act as natural painkillers.
  • When under stress, don’t clench your jaw or grind your teeth. You can put your tongue in between the teeth to make sure that you don’t grind them.
  • If you carry a heavy briefcase or purse often on one shoulder, try to lighten the load as the weight disturbs the alignment of your neck and spine. It may contribute to jaw pain indirectly. It you absolutely need to carry the load, shift it from one shoulder to another while you are walking.

When Should I Call a Physician?

If you still have symptoms of pain and discomfort after 2 weeks of TMJ home treatment, call your physician. If you are having too much pain while opening your mouth or brushing your teeth, then prompt medical attention is required. Muscle-relaxing drugs may be prescribed by your physician for severe TMD. In case of inflammation, an injection of corticosteroids may be given in the joints. You can get a prescription for a customized mouth guard by a dentist that you can wear at night so as to reduce grinding or clenching if that’s leading to pain.

Over-the-Counter pain killers: For many persons suffering from TMD short term use of OTC pain killers or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may give temporary relief. If required, your physician may prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory or pain medicines, antidepressants or muscle relaxants to help relieve symptoms.

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