TMJ, commonly called “lock jaw,” refers to a group of disorders that cause problems with the jaw. The most common TMJ symptoms include limitations in the jaw’s normal range of motion, leading to pain and difficulty sleeping. TMJ causes include unusual pressure placed on the jaw, causing misalignments in the jaw’s muscles and joints. (1) Natural TMJ treatment methods can help provide relief from painful and irritating symptoms.
TMJ Causes and Risk Factors
- Grinding the teeth
- Hormonal imbalance
- Birth control pills
- A poor diet / vitamin deficiencies
- Frequent gum chewing
- Pain and achiness around the jaw, neck, face, ears and shoulders (2)
- Problems chewing normally and pain when eating
- Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw when chewing
- Trouble sleeping normally
- Ringing in the ears
- Joint pain
- Muscle spasms and swelling around the jaw and face
Following an anti-inflammatory diet is an important part of TMJ treatment. Foods that can help relieve TMJ symptoms include:
- Foods that are easy to chew: Soft foods that are easy to chew, including soups, smoothies and cooked vegetables can help limit jaw pain when eating. (3)
- Small meals: Blood sugar fluctuations can lead to teeth grinding. Eating smaller meals can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Steamed vegetables: Steamed vegetables are easy to chew and they provide the body with essential nutrients to promote healing.
- Foods rich in magnesium: The body uses magnesium to relax and release tension in tight muscles. (4)
Foods that may worsen symptoms of TMJ and should be avoided include:
- Sugar: Sugar increases inflammation in the body and weakens the immune system.
- Caffeine: Too much caffeine can dehydrate the muscles and increase muscle tension.
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol before bed can lead to teeth grinding at night, which is listed among TMJ causes.
- Gum: Gum, caramels or any candy that is hard to chew can worsen TMJ. (5)
- Tough foods: Dry cuts of meat or other foods that are tough to chew can worsen symptoms.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is an important part of TMJ treatment. Take 250 mg 2-3 times per day to help relax the muscles and the nervous system. (6)
- Calcium: Calcium works alongside magnesium to aid in muscle relaxation. Take 500 mg twice a day.
- Kava: Kava can help relax the muscles and reduce anxiety. Take 70 mg three times per day.
- MSM: MSM is a natural anti-inflammatory that works to reduce muscle spasms. Take 1,000 mg three times per day. (7)
- B-Complex: B-complex vitamins can help lower stress levels and reduce inflammation. Take 50 mg twice a day.
3. Essential Oils
Certain essential oils can be used in TMJ treatment to help naturally relieve pain and relax the muscles. Essential oils for TMJ treatment include:
- Peppermint Essential Oil: Peppermint oil provides a cooling sensation and has a calming effect on the body. Use peppermint oil to help release tight muscles and relieve pain.
- Frankincense Essential Oil: Frankincense oil promotes feelings of peace and relaxation. Use frankincense oils to help lower inflammation levels, reduce stress to relieve TMJ pain. (8)
- Lavender Essential Oil: Lavender oil is known for its calming properties. Use lavender to help relax tense muscles, reduce anxiety and fight insomnia.