If it sounds like you are trying to crack walnuts with your jaw, you may be suffering from Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ (thank goodness for abbreviations). TMJ is a musculoskeletal pain disorder that affects 1 out of every three people. While you may have thought back pain was the only common affliction among adults, TMJ follows in a close second. With so many people suffering from this ailment, we have compiled the best home remedies to help you relieve TMJ pain at home.
Finding Relief from the Pain of TMJ
Because the Temporomandibular Joint is responsible for opening and closing the mouth and the movement of the jaw, it is not a surprise that this joint becomes severely fatigued and weak over time. On average, a person speaks 7,000 words every day. That is a minimum of 7,000 jaw movements and mouth openings every day. Imagine doing 7,000 squats day-in and day-out, year after year. How long would it take before you needed a complete knee replacement?
Some of the ways you find relief for other joint aches and pains are the same for relieving TMJ. Here are some tips that will hopefully help your pain dissipate:
- Alternate hot and cold compresses every 20 minutes for a maximum of 1 hour. Do this a few times a day or as needed.
- Relieve the inflammation by taking ibuprofen.
- Ask your dentist for a custom fit nightguard, or find an over-the-counter one at a pharmacy that fits comfortably. Preventing movement of the jaw during the night may stave off the pain during the daytime.
- Eat foods that do not need to be chewed excessively (say goodbye to all chewing gum).
- Practice these TMJ exercises a couple of times during the day as long as it does not increase the discomfort.
Do You Have TMJ?
There has been a lot of debate among dental providers about why TMJ seems to be so prevalent. It is pretty logical to assume that, because it is a joint, it suffers from the same fatigue and muscle weakness as a knee (refer to the example above). However, more research shows that TMJ may also be caused by hormones, as data reveals more women experience this disorder than men.
There is a broad spectrum of symptoms that point to TMJ; these can include:
- Tightening of the jaw or difficulty moving the mouth
- Pain that can be either constant or acute in the jaw, mouth, or neck
- Changes in the way your mouth or jaw opens and moves
- Cracking or popping sounds when using the mouth
- Differences in the way your bite closes (either overbite, underbite, or crossbite)
- Frequent headaches, migraines, ear and neck pain
- Anxiety, mood swings, and behavior changes like trouble sleeping and irritability due to pain
Get Relief from a Dental Provider
It can be challenging to diagnose TMJ on your own. If the tips above do not help you find relief from TMJ pain, please schedule an appointment with one of our excellent dental providers. A dentist can prescribe pain relievers and will also examine your jaw closely to implement treatments. No one needs to talk through life with pain in the jaw.