Using natural remedies for TMJ alongside your dentist’s treatments.
We don’t often think about it this way, but when it’s functioning the way it’s meant to, your jaw can do amazing things. It’s a complex and incredibly mobile joint that allows you to move your jaw up, down, side to side, forward, and back. All these movements make it possible for you to carry out daily tasks like eating, drinking, speaking, and laughing—even something as basic as swallowing involves moving your jaw!
When you’re struggling with TMJ pain, though, all these basic tasks can become painful and even difficult, leaving you desperate for a solution.
Thankfully, even when aggressive TMJ disorders, also called TMD, have become persistent, most patients don’t need aggressive types of treatment. Once you visit your dentist for a TMD evaluation, there are several things you can do to naturally aid your dentist’s recommended TMJ treatment. Your dentist will also likely start you on more function-focused remedies for TMJ to ensure that you get the best results with the least invasive treatment possible.
Here are 5 natural remedies for TMJ that you can do alongside other TMJ treatments to bring relief from symptoms like jaw pain.
1. Be gentle with yourself.
Just like anything, your jaw needs time and rest to heal. Your jaw is so essential that you can’t just avoid using it, but you can be gentle with it. Big jaw movements put more stress on it, so do your best to limit these. This means trying to minimize actions that cause your jaws to open wide, like big yawns, belting out a song at top volume, or yelling. Another part of being gentle on yourself and your jaw is trying to avoid repetitive jaw movements to give it as much rest as possible, so it’s best to eliminate habits like chewing gum for the time being. These details might sound small, but they can make a huge difference in your jaw pain!
2. Eat soft foods.
Your jaw needs to work harder and exert more pressure to chew tough or crunchy foods, so switching to softer foods can give it a much-needed break. This doesn’t need to be a permanent change, but it can be very helpful during the initial treatment process. Not only can this reduce your jaw pain, but it can provide the chance for swelling and inflammation to go down.
Thankfully, there are plenty of healthy and delicious foods that are soft! Soups, yogurt, and smoothies are well-known choices, but you don’t have to be limited to those kinds of options. You can also eat fish like salmon, baked potatoes, watermelon, cooked vegetables, eggs, and more.
3. Consider implementing an anti-inflammatory diet.
Many TMJ symptoms, from jaw pain to headaches and earaches, are due to inflammation in the jaw that can spread to nearby areas. Your diet can play a big role in inflammation, with some foods worsening it and others actively fighting inflammation. As a result, starting yourself on an anti-inflammatory diet during your TMJ treatment can help your progress. But what does an anti-inflammatory diet involve?
It generally means eating fruits and vegetables like cherries, blackberries, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach, as well as legumes like beans and lentils. Foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are also great for inflammation. At the same time, you should cut back on or avoid sugary and processed foods, refined carbohydrates, fried food, and red meat.
Even better, this diet is just healthy in general—and it’s delicious! There are plenty of resources out there to help you find delicious recipes in line with an anti-inflammatory diet. You might even find some new favorite dinners to make at home.
4. Cut down on stress.
Stress is one of the main causes of TMD because it often causes you to clench your jaw—either during the day or in your sleep—without even realizing it. This strong, constant pressure on your jaw can cause TMJ pain. This means that finding ways to manage or cut down on your stress is also one of the main natural remedies for TMJ. Thankfully, there are a lot of methods you can try. First, do your best not to overcommit yourself and to limit activities you know cause you stress.
Those steps alone can be helpful, but you can also try stress-management techniques, like exercising, yoga, meditating or practicing breathing or mindfulness techniques, journaling, and setting aside time for yourself to relax every day. Relaxation looks different for everyone, but it could mean anything from reading or painting to relaxing with a bubble bath. No matter how busy you are, it’s important to find time for yourself every day!
You may also want to consider seeing a therapist, as they can be incredibly helpful in identifying sources of stress and giving you tools to minimize anxiety. Finding the right method for you can take a little trial and error, but it’s beyond worth it for the improvement in your jaw pain and your mental health.
5. Do myofunctional therapy.
When you visit Ada Smile Place for a TMJ evaluation, one of the main treatments that Dr. Edwards or Dr. Burton may recommend is myofunctional therapy. Despite its fancy name, myofunctional therapy is a TMJ remedy that uses your body’s own tools to restore function to your jaw and reduce pain.
This works because TMD is sometimes caused by weak muscles in and around your jaw as well as in your lips, tongue, cheeks, and face. In addition to being weak, these muscles may not be functioning together the way they’re meant to. Myofunctional therapy aims to resolve this by strengthening these muscles and training them to work together properly. In practice, this therapy is surprisingly simple—all it involves is you practicing gentle, easy jaw exercises every day to strengthen and train these muscles.
When you visit us for a consultation, your dentist will thoroughly examine your jaw to determine the cause of your jaw pain and design a treatment specifically for you. This ensures that every aspect of your condition is addressed, giving you the best results possible—and helping to ensure that those results last.
Ada Smile Place can help you restore jaw function.
While TMD can cause a wide-ranging list of symptoms that can feel quite debilitating, it doesn’t have to become your new normal. You can use a range of natural remedies for TMJ to bring a surprising amount of relief to your jaw.
That said, these methods should be used alongside treatments like myofunctional therapy from your dentist, which are designed to address the cause of your specific case of TMD. If you’d like to learn more about TMJ and myofunctional therapy or if you’d like an evaluation for your jaw pain, feel free to schedule a consultation at our local dentist office at any time.