11 Home And Clinical Remedies For TMJ Relief
Your dentist has just confirmed that you have TMJ dysfunction. He has recommended initial home treatment before considering surgery. Following are 7 home remedies. They include methods for re-aligning the jaw, reducing stress, and relieving pain. A discussion of dental devices and surgical intervention is also included, in the event your dentist determines that you need these.
Gentle exercises will help restore normal movement, improve jaw flexibility, and strengthen the jaw muscles. The magic number for the following exercises is "3." The magic key is to perform each exercise gently and slowly. The exercises are tagged with titles, to facilitate memorizing them. NOTE: Do not perform any exercise that worsens pain.
A. MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL
Stand before a mirror and watch yourself gently open and close your mouth, moving the jaw straight up and down. Repeat for 1 minute, 3 times a day. You should see gradual improvement in your jaw's range of motion.
Hold your mouth in the open position for 3 seconds, then slowly close your mouth. Repeat 3 times.
C. TRAIN TO MAINTAIN
This chiropractor-endorsed exercise promotes proper alignment of the jaw. It effectively re-trains the muscles in proper jaw movement. Place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, and slowly move your jaw up and down. To ensure that the movement is only up-and-down, place your thumb on your chin with very slight downward pressure. Perform 3 times a day.
A. THUMB PRESS
Place your thumb on the bottom of your chin. While applying steady light pressure with the thumb, open your mouth by slowly lowering your jaw. Do 3 times.
B. FINGER FRAME
Open your mouth. Place both thumbs under your jaw and both index fingers on your jaw joints. As you close your mouth, push lightly with your thumbs and index fingers. Repeat 3 times.
C. TONGUE ON A HOT TIN ROOF
Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth as you slowly open and close your jaw. Perform 3 times.
2. RESTING THE JAW
A. When not talking or eating, keep your teeth apart and your lips closed. Maintain your tongue on the roof of your mouth, rather than between your teeth.
B. Hold a cork gently between your front teeth to keep jaws relaxed and separated.
3. STRESS MANAGEMENT
We all know that our bodies do not like stress. With TMJ, stress can increase the tendency to clench and grind the teeth. Although we can't escape stress in our lives, we can take steps to minimize and manage it. Here are some means to do this:
• warm shower or bath
• relaxing, non-competitive hobbies
• soothing instrumental music
4. BODY ALIGNMENT
Keeping your head in alignment with the rest of your body puts less stress on the jaw. Practice this when doing your daily activities, and especially when watching television.
5. APPLICATIONS OF COLD AND HEAT
A. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a moist towel to the painful side of your jaw. Keep in place for 5 minutes. This relieves joint inflammation and pain. Can be done as needed.
B. Use heat on both sides of the jaw. Run a hand towel under warm water, then wring it out. Apply the towel gently to both sides of the face. Perform 3 times on each side. This increases blood flow to jaw muscles and makes the jaw more flexible.
It has been reported that a magnesium deficiency may contribute to the severity of TMJ disorder. Good food sources of magnesium are nuts, leafy greens, and molasses. The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women. Check with your doctor before taking a supplemental form of magnesium.
7. CHANGING LIFESTYLE HABITS
A. Avoid resting your jaw in your hand. Eliminate cradling the phone between your shoulder and jaw. Use a head-set or the speaker setting instead. Avoid chewing gum, pens, and pencils.
B. While working at a desk, use a supportive chair. Avoid hunching over your desk. Raise your work surface to eliminate tilting the jaw upward while on the computer.
RECOMMENDATIONS BY YOUR DENTIST
8. SPLINT OR MOUTH GUARD
According to Parkland Mall Dental Centre, these are plastic devices that fit over the upper and lower teeth, and protect them from the effects of grinding. They also correct an improper bite. When the teeth don't come together properly with speaking and chewing, the jaw can become inflamed. Splints are worn throughout the day. Night guards are worn during sleep. Your dentist can measure and fit you for a splint or night guard.
9. CUSTOM-FIT ORAL ORTHOTIC
This device is made of clear acrylic. It fits over either the top or bottom teeth. It eliminates muscle spasm and pain, re-aligns the jaw, and shields the teeth from the damage of grinding and clenching. Orthotics are worn 24 hours a day.
10. LASER THERAPY
This is a new and advanced technique. A low-level laser is used to reduce pain and inflammation, and increase range of motion to the jaw and neck.
Surgery is only performed in the small percentage of people that do not improve with conservative treatment. There are 4 types of TMJ surgery:
arthrocentesis - flushing the joints with saline.
arthroscopy - using a tiny incision and camera to visualize the joint and loosen scar tissue.
arthroplasty - making an incision along the ear through which bone spurs are shaved; the joint disc is sewn in place, removed, or repositioned; and tissue grafts are performed.
total joint replacement - the TMJ joints are removed and replaced with prosthetic joints. Two incisions are involved, along the ear and the jaw line.
This is an exciting time in the treatment of TMJ disorder! Research and study have provided effective means for treatment. Do all you can with regard to home treatment, and TMJ will no longer be a part of your vocabulary!