TMJ refers to disorders of the Temporomandibular joint and the surrounding facial muscles. Temporomandibular joint is the joint where the lower jaw is connected to the skull on each side of the head. It is a flexible joint which permits the smooth movement of the jaw in the horizontal and vertical directions to enable us to talk, chew and yawn. Conditions affecting this jaw joint and muscles and causing dysfunction of the same are called TMJ. Bruxism is the tight clenching or grinding of teeth usually during sleep which may lead to TMJ. Often Bruxism and TMJ go hand-in-hand and can result in damage and subsequent tooth loss, pain in the head, neck and ear, hearing loss, sleeplessness and can even cause a change in the facial appearance. These conditions are more prevalent in women.
Causes of TMJ, Bruxism and Teeth Grinding:
TMJ may be caused due to trauma to the temporomandibular joint, although in most cases the exact reasons have not been determined. Due to the fact that its occurrence is high in women it is speculated that female hormones may have a role to play in this. Bruxism in which a lot of pressure is put on the jaw, arthritis in the temporomandibular joint and stress can also cause TMJ. The exact cause for Bruxism has also not been clearly determined although daily stress is considered as a trigger. A person with bruxism clenches and grinds the teeth without being fully aware that he is doing so and the amount of damage and pain caused depends upon how much stress the person is under and how long and how tightly he is grinding his teeth, his teeth alignment, posture and ability to relax.
Symptoms of TMJ, Bruxism and Teeth Grinding:
The symptoms TMJ, Bruxism and Teeth grinding include pain and discomfort in the face, jaw area, neck and ear, inability to open the mouth very wide, clicking or locking of jaws in the open or closed condition of the mouth, difficulty in chewing and swelling in the face. Toothaches and sensitivity, headaches, earaches, difficulty in hearing, ringing in the ears and pain in the neck and shoulders are also common symptoms. They are accompanied by anxiety, stress and eating disorders.
How to treat TMJ, Bruxism and Teeth Grinding Naturally:
Self-care practices, incorporation of approaches to consciously stop tooth clenching and grinding, relaxation techniques to overcome anxiety and stress along with modifications in the diet are helpful in treating TMJ, Bruxism and Teeth Grinding:
– Use a cold pack on the jaw for about 10 minutes if there is a sharp shooting pain.
– Use a hot pack if the pain is dull and persistent. This increases the blood circulation and helps in relaxing the jaw.
– Open your mouth and massage the muscles around the jaw to relax them. Then close your mouth and repeat the same several times a day. Massage the neck muscles also.
– Try to sit up straight without bending forward and make sure the back is well supported. This avoids strain on the neck and back.
– Avoid chewing gum, pencils and non-food items.
– Consciously try not to clench and grind the teeth. If there is an urge, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth.
– Do not sleep on your stomach as this strains the neck and the jaw. Sleep on your back or side.
– Practice meditation and relaxation techniques to reduce stress and anxiety.
Home remedies for TMJ, Bruxism and Teeth Grinding :
- Avoid foods which are difficult to chew like candies, nuts and steak and crunchy foods like hard rolls and apples, as they require the mouth to be opened wide.
- Consume foods like mashed potato, yogurt, soup, eggs, fish, cooked vegetables and rice which are easy to eat.
- Cut your food into small sized bites so that you can eat more easily.
- Do not consume foods that contain caffeine like coffee, colas and chocolate as this increases muscle tension.
- Avoid alcohol as teeth grinding worsens after its consumption.
- Include calcium and magnesium supplements in your diet.
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TMJ, Bruxism and Teeth Grinding are chronic problems which drain your body physically and mentally. Disfiguration or loss of teeth, headaches and sleepless nights lead to anxiety and depression which aggravates TMJ and makes it a vicious cycle. Surgery is risky and is irreversible. Therefore, use this proven natural method to get permanent relief from this immensely stressful condition and regain your energy to live your life to the fullest.