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Best Ways To Relieve TMJ Pain + Best Exercises

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Best Ways To Relieve TMJ Pain + Best Exercises April 8, 2019

Over 10 to 36 million adults in the US are affected by TMJ disorders (1).

Do you experience a lurking pain in the jaw every time you open your mouth, be it for chewing your food or even talking? This pain is quite commonly referred to as TMJ pain as it occurs in the TMJ or temporomandibular joint.

A variety of factors can trigger TMJ pain. Something as simple as chewing too much gum to something as serious as an underlying medical condition, like arthritis, can cause TMJ pain. What are the other possible triggers of this pain? Can it be treated? Read on to find out.

What Is The TMJ Joint?

The TMJ or temporomandibular joint is located at the base of the skull, and its main function is to allow movement that is required for talking and chewing.

The lower part of the jaw, called the mandible, is connected to the temporal bones on the sides of the skull with the help of the TMJ joint. This joint is one of the most complex joints in your body as it allows movement of the jaw from side to side as well as up and down.

When the TMJ is affected, it leads to disorders that can cause great pain and discomfort.

What Are TMJ Disorders?

TMJ disorders are most often a result of an injury or damage to the temporomandibular joint that connects your jaw to the skull. These disorders include a broad category of conditions affecting the TMJ and have many possible causes. They are usually characterized by pain in the jaw as well as the muscles that control the movement of your jaw. This pain is usually more prominent when you chew, click, crackle, or pop your jaw.

The symptoms associated with these disorders can vary in terms of their nature and severity.

Symptoms Of TMJ Pain

The symptoms of TMJ may include:

  • Pain while moving the jaw
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Neck, back, or ear aches
  • A grinding, clicking, or popping sound from the jaw while moving it
  • A buzzing or ringing sound in the ears
  • Limited jaw movement due to locking of the joint
  • Facial pain

The severity of these symptoms may vary from one person to another.

The exact cause of TMJ pain is difficult to determine. However, here are some factors that may be responsible for causing the pain.

What Causes TMJ Pain?

The causes of TMJ pain may include:

  • Infections
  • Misalignment of the teeth/jaw
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • An injury to the jaw
  • Damage of the TMJ due to medical conditions like arthritis

The following are some factors that can increase your risk of developing TMJ pain.

Risk Factors

The risk factors for TMJ pain are:

  • Teeth grinding
  • A history of dental surgery
  • Stress that causes your facial and/or jaw muscles to tighten
  • Poor posture
  • Chewing gums excessively
  • Use of orthodontic braces
  • Genetic predisposition to pain and sensitivity

The pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders are usually temporary and can be relieved easily. Self-management is one of the best ways to treat mild to moderate cases of TMJ pain. Listed below are some of the best ways that can help you manage TMJ pain on your own.

Best Ways To Relieve TMJ Pain

1. Hot Or Cold Compress

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You Will Need

A hot or cold compress

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply a hot or cold compress to your jaw.
  2. Place it there for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove and repeat a couple of times.
How Often You Should Do This

You can apply this 2-3 times daily to the affected area.

Why This Works

Both hot and cold therapies can help alleviate musculoskeletal pain. Hot therapy improves circulation, whereas, cold therapy numbs the pain and can help reduce inflammation and swelling (2).

2. Acupuncture

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Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that is quite commonly used to relieve pain. It involves the insertion of multiple acupuncture needles at specific acupuncture points. According to a study published in the journal Medicine, acupuncture was able to reduce symptoms of myofascial pain in patients with TMD (3). Hence, you can try and avail this therapy from a professional to relieve symptoms of TMJ pain.

3. CBD Oil

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You Will Need

1-2 drops of CBD or cannabidiol oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Take one to two drops of CBD oil and apply a thin layer on the affected area.
  2. Allow the oil to be absorbed into your skin.

Note: Consult a doctor for proper guidance before using this remedy.

How Often You Should Do This

You may do this 1-2 times daily.

Why This Works

CBD oil can attenuate symptoms of early-phase inflammation and may be a great option for those experiencing TMJ pain (4).

4. Essential Oils

a. Lavender Oil

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You Will Need
  • 1-2 drops of lavender oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil or any other carrier oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Add one to two drops of lavender oil to one to two teaspoons of any carrier oil.
  2. Mix well and apply the blend to the affected area.
  3. Leave it on for 20-30 minutes and rinse it off with water.
  4. You may also leave it on and wait for it to dry naturally.
  5. Alternatively, you can also inhale the pleasant aroma of the oil using a diffuser.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this 1-2 times daily.

Why This Works

The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of lavender oil can help in reducing TMJ pain (5).

b. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1-2 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil or any other carrier oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Add one to two drops of eucalyptus oil to one to two teaspoons of coconut oil or any other carrier oil.
  2. Mix well and apply it to the affected area.
  3. Leave it on until it dries on its own.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this two times daily for best results.

Why This Works

Like lavender oil, eucalyptus oil also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial in the treatment of TMJ pain (6).

5. Oil Pulling

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You Will Need

1 tablespoon of cold-pressed coconut oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Swish cold-pressed coconut oil in your mouth
  2. for 10 minutes and spit it out.
  3. Go about your regular oral regimen, like brushing and flossing.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily, preferably every morning.

Why This Works

The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties exhibited by coconut oil can help alleviate symptoms of pain and inflammation associated with TMD (7).

6. Mouthguard

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The use of a mouthguard or oral splint is a conservative approach for treating TMJ pain. It can help reduce the symptoms without changing the alignment of your jaw or teeth (8).

In addition to these remedies, here are some great exercises that can help reduce TMJ pain.

Exercises For TMJ Pain Relief

  1. Relaxed Jaw Exercise
  2. Goldfish Exercise (Partial Opening)
  3. Goldfish Exercise (Full Opening)
  4. Chin Tucks
  5. Resisted Opening Of The Mouth
  6. Resisted Closing Of The Mouth
  7. Tongue-To-Roof
  8. The Side Slide
  9. Forward Jaw Movement
  10. Wide Stretch
  11. Mandibular Stabilization Exercises
  12. Occipital Lifts

To know how to do these exercises, click here.

All these exercises can help in strengthening your jaw muscles, thereby also alleviating the symptoms of TMJ pain.

Most cases of TMJ pain ease away on their own. The remedies and exercises provided in this article can aid and speed up the healing process.

If the TMJ pain continues to bother you or becomes severe, it is best to avail medical attention. Severe cases of TMJ pain might get resolved only post-surgical intervention.

Was this post helpful? Let us know in the comments box below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

How long does TMJ pain last?

TMJ pain usually lasts anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. If the pain has turned chronic, it is best to see a doctor immediately.

When to see a doctor for TMJ pain?

If you have persistent pain or tenderness in the jaw, consult a doctor immediately. Constant clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when you open or close your mouth may also require medical intervention.

How do you relax your jaw before bed?

If you are used to clenching your jaw, the symptoms of TMJ pain can worsen. Hence, it is necessary that you learn how to relax your jaw, especially before bed. Positioning your tongue between your teeth or holding a warm cloth against your cheek, right next to your earlobes, can help in relaxing your jaw muscles.s

What helps jaw pain from clenching teeth?

Massaging your jaw, trying out aromatherapy or hot/cold compress, and using a mouthguard can help relieve jaw pain that results from clenching your teeth.

Do ENT doctors treat TMJ?

Yes, ENT doctors can help with the symptoms of TMJ pain.

References

  1. Temporomandibular Disorders and Associated Clinical Comorbidities” SemanticScholar.
  2. Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury.” Postgraduate Medicine, US National Library Of Medicine.
  3. Acupuncture therapy in the management of the clinical outcomes for temporomandibular disorders” Medicine, US National Library Of Medicine.
  4. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis” European Journal of Pain, US National Library Of Medicine.
  5. Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil.” Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, US National Library Of Medicine.
  6. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of essential oils of Eucalyptus.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  7. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil.” Pharmaceutical Biology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  8. Oral splint for temporomandibular joint disorders with revolutionary fluid system” Dental Research Journal, US National Library Of Medicine.