Infomation about Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

What Is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is like a sliding hinge that connects the jawbone to your skull. There is one on either side of the jaw and TMJ disorders can cause pain in your jaw joint and the muscles involved in jaw movement. TMJ dysfunctions can cause several issues including general jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty opening and closing the mouth. Although TMJ refers to the actual jaw joint, TMD stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Roughly 5-12% of the general adult population have some form of TMJ disorder, and the condition is nearly twice as common in women as it is in men. People between the ages of 20-40  are most likely to develop TMD conditions.

Signs Of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:

  • Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw
  • Aching facial pain
  • Locking of the joint, making it hard to open and close the mouth
  • Aching pain in or around the ear

TMJ disorders can occasionally cause a clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth to chew. If there is no pain or your jaw movement is uninhibited, even with a clicking sound, you may not be in need of treatment. 

What Causes Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

In most cases, the cause of a TMJ disorder may not be clear. Occasionally, the main cause is excessive strain on the jaw joints and the muscle group that controls your chewing, speech, and swallowing. Bruxism may be the cause of the strain. It is habitual, involuntary clenching or teeth grinding, but trauma to the head, neck, or jaw can cause TMJ disorders. Other potential causes of TMJ disorders are:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Jaw, head, or neck injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Everyday wear and tear

Dherbs Approach...adjusting your diet is always key!

Natural Remedies
  • There are a few links between stress and TMJ disorders, so experimenting with relaxation techniques to reduce stress may help you manage symptoms. Meditation, prayer, deep breathing exercises, or using guided imagery can be helpful in getting better sleep and managing pain that accompanies TMJ dysfunction. Studies have shown that massage therapy, yoga, and meditation successfully relaxed patients with TMJ. Massage therapy and acupuncture may also be useful techniques to soothe inflammation or joint stiffness in the jaw area. 
  • Besides stretching and strengthening the jaw, regular exercise for the entire body can also help reduce stress. Exercise also works to lower inflammation, balance blood sugar levels, and encourage healthier sleep patterns. Ideally, aim for 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise per day. 
  • Generally speaking, you want to take pressure off your jaw, but  gentle jaw stretching and muscle relaxing exercises may help ease jaw movement and improve range of motion. A physical therapies or doctor can recommend appropriate TMJ exercises that you can practice at home for a few minutes, one to three times per day. One study found that jaw exercises were effective at reducing TMJ symptoms more quickly and efficiently than jaw splints. Participants in the study not only performed four sets of jaw exercises every day, but also ate softer foods, practices good posture, and engaged in simple self-care practices. After eight weeks, they experienced significant reductions in pain. 
  • If you suffer from TMJ pain, health experts suggest experimenting with chiropractic therapy, since poor posture and problems with muscles in the cervical spine can lead to jaw problems. Chiropractors can use various adjustments to help free up any restrictions in the craniosacral system, which includes the fluids and membranes surrounding the brain and spine. 
  • If the joints around the jaw are inflamed, your TMJ pain and symptoms will be worse. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet, especially one that is full of easy-to-chew foods, can help reduce swelling and joint deterioration. Eating every few hours can also help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent teeth grinding that results from anxiousness. Soups, stews, smoothies, and cooked or steamed vegetables are great ways to get a lot of nutrients without the need for lots of chewing. 
Things you should eat
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
  • Mashed sweet potatoes 
  • Cooked broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables)
  • Green tea
  • Turmeric
  • Garlic
  • Spinach (blended in smoothies)
  • Soups
  • Smoothies
  • Steamed vegetables
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